A third of employees plans to make themselves available to work during their Christmas holidays despite bosses urging them to take time off - sparking concerns that workers could carry worrying burnout levels into the new year.
A study of over 2,000 UK office workers by Slack, the digital HQ for business, and YouGov, reveals a worrying disconnect between bosses and employees on work expectations during the Christmas period.
The majority (83%) of UK bosses, with leadership responsibilities, say they will encourage their employees to switch off during the holiday season.
But, despite this, a third (32%) of employees plan to be online and available to work during the holiday season - even when they have time off.
Trends Report 2023/24
Redefining Talent Retention, DE&I, and Leadership in 2024
The last few years have been challenging for HR professionals to say the least, and 2024 isn't going to be a year which lets up!
Advanced's Annual Trends report (in which we asked over 500 real HR leaders about their challenges and priorities) reveals what big tests you and your people can expect to face into 2024, and has delivered a resounding warning: the people management landscape continues to rapidly shift, and people teams continue to face an uphill battle to power performance and retain their best people. Delivering a first-class people experience is going to be harder than ever if skills and talent gaps can't be addressed.
Our 8th Annual Trends Report is here to help you anticipate of all the key challenges that continue to affect business and HR leaders, and the people that drive your working world. We shine a light on the dominant trends you need to be aware of in 2024, as well as offer key practical takeaways to help you power business performance and make 2024 a success.
Read our report to stay ahead of:
How to attract and retain your best talent
The skills shortages affecting people teams
Technological barriers to delivering a truly great people experience
The continuing role Diversity, Equality and Inclusion plays in powering business success
How Environmental, Social and Governance matters are taking centre stage when it comes to employee experience
What good leadership looks like in 2024
Almost 2 in 5 (36%) employees who are available for work will check in on Christmas Eve—even though it falls on a Saturday this year. What’s more, nearly 1 in 5 (19%) plan to check their work messages on Boxing Day, and 1 in 10 (10%) will even do so on Christmas Day!
The findings are part of a new "Festive Season Survey”, exploring how the looming recession is impacting UK employees’ ability to switch off and whether they feel pressure from their bosses to be available.
Work pressure comes from employees themselves
38% of bosses note there’s no day over the holiday period where they expect employees to check in with work—whether that’s looking at messages, emails or providing an update.
However, the data indicates that employees are struggling to disconnect because of their own drive, according to 3 in 5 (53%) of those who say they are available to work despite having time off.
Expectations between employees and bosses must be clearer to avoid burnout
With a gap existing between bosses and their employees regarding work over Christmas, expectations must be clearer. In fact, half (49%) of employees—as well as 50% of bosses—worry that the pressure to be constantly available for work will lead to burnout. Individuals are not just concerned about themselves burning out, but their co-workers, with 51% of bosses revealing this is a worry rising to 54% for employees.
Helping employees to establish clear boundaries is critical, especially as almost a third (33%) of all office workers say it takes them up to three days to switch off during the holidays.
Technology has the power to set clear expectations
Worryingly, only a third (33%) of employees say their employer helps them to switch off when they have time off. Yet the study suggests technology has a role to play here.
72% of employees believe having a good digital infrastructure makes it easier to show managers, co-workers and customers that they’re on holiday and not to be disturbed. While over 3 in 5 (61%) agree it makes it easier to balance work and private life. Notifications and statuses are two reasons for this, and the majority (65%) of employees plan to switch their notifications off for the entire Christmas period, while almost half (48%) plan to use a status to set expectations about their availability to work.
Enabling employees to switch off properly is critical. Over half (55%) of employees surveyed choose to work at a company with the flexible digital infrastructure and vacation policies that allow them to work how and when they want.
Chris Mills, Head of Customer Success, EMEA, at Slack, commented: “Technology has enabled employees to work faster and smarter in a hybrid working world, but it’s vital that employees know they can switch off during the Christmas break and are empowered to do so. A digital HQ, such as Slack, creates the right kind of digital infrastructure—one which helps foster transparent communication where bosses set clear expectations and one that enables employees to set their own boundaries for work. If technology is harnessed in the right way, it can make the difference. Features, included in tools like Slack, such as scheduled send, Do Not Disturb and custom statuses, allow workers to stay in control, enabling companies to create a healthy culture where employees can thrive in 2023 and beyond.”
Mobility super-app, Bolt, is an example of a company doing this well. Kerstin Rothermel, VP People at Bolt explains: "We advise employees to block margin times in their work calendars and explicitly encourage them not to work on holidays or during vacation. When it comes to collaboration, we rely on openness and transparency, for instance through shared documents, which allow vacation replacements to take over the respective tasks more easily and without questions. For such cases, tools like Slack are very helpful.”