Leavism refers to those employees who take annual leave instead of sick leave, take work home which they haven’t been able to finish while at work or work while on holiday.

Just like with presenteeeism (when an employee comes to work when sick), leavism should not be encouraged. Not taking time away from the workplace to relax and recharge your batteries can lead to a poor work-life balance, work-related stress and burnout. None of those things bode well for employees or employers. A HR consultant will help you combat the problems associated with leavism.

In order to avoid leavism in your organisation, watch out for the following red flags and learn how best to deal with them:

  1. Checking emails and making calls whilst on holiday

Company smartphones, tablets and laptops are fantastic tools for employees and help keep them connected. But it can also be detrimental as it doesn’t let them switch off.

While it may be practically impossible to impose a ban on all out of hours emails and calls, you can encourage them to break free from ’work mode’ while away on holiday. To give them more peace of mind, make sure there is sufficient cover, a proper handover has been completed and that you agree on how to contact them if an emergency situation does come up.

  1. Working out of hours

To answer urgent calls and messages is one thing. But if an employee is consistently working late at night and very early in the morning in order to finish work they couldn’t get done at the office, it’s a clear sign of leavism.

If you do notice that someone is compulsively answering emails out of standard hours, you can bring it up in their next performance review or one to one meeting and encourage them to put down their phone or laptop when at home.

  1. Not booking annual leave 

Annual leave entitlements are there to be taken. By law, full-time employees must take at least 28 days of leave per year.  The figure is pro rated for part-time staff. 

All employers should be periodically reviewing whether employees have taken leave and if they do notice that an employee has a lot of outstanding leave, you should remind them of how much leave they still have to take before the holiday year ends and encourage them to book.

Is workplace culture the reason for leavism?

Do managers encourage working outside standard hours and see it as negative if employees do not do so? Why are employees not able to just enjoy their holiday without worrying about work? Why do they feel that it is necessary to take annual leave rather than sick leave?

Tackling workplace culture is notoriously difficult. Change never happens overnight. It takes time, effort and follow-through, but by reviewing current practices and management styles, you can get to the root of leavism and find solutions.

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