'Work separation anxiety' is one term for this, as described in a recent Telegraph article. The phrase alludes to the fact that many employees fail to switch off: believing that if something goes wrong whilst they’re away it will somehow be their responsibility. Yet, according to Alan Price, CEO of Bright HR, taking time off “offers an important opportunity for managers to switch off from work for their own health and wellbeing.” With burnout recently classed as a disease by the World Health Organisation, many firms are looking at their own long-hours, always-on cultures, questioning if they truly are the most productive states of play. Coupled with news that countries that work the longest on average are some of the least productive, it reinforces the importance of ensuring that workers take a break.
So, what does this mean for HR? Well, the function needs to ensure it is setting the right policies, and encouraging the right company culture, to ensure that line-managers, bosses and even the most senior company leaders feel like they can take time off. But what does this look like? And, how can remaining, less-senior staff feel best able to make important decisions when the boss decides it’s time for a break – especially when this might force them to make choices with serious business consequences.