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I Want To Break Free... From Work!

Developments in technology over the past 20 years have propelled global business and commerce into a league that was almost unimaginable to most people in the 1970s and 1980s. In only two decades, we have witnessed a huge number of changes – the move from landlines to mobile phones in telecommunications; a shift from faxes and letters to e-mail; and almost instant access to billions of pages of information via the World Wide Web.

This is all very well for those of us who want constant access to the rest of the world and to be in contact with each other 24/7, but what about those who want to break free from the stresses and strains of their working lives and take a breather? Taking a break does you good, especially after a particularly challenging period beforehand.

After the stress of the recent World Cup 2010, Frank Lampard took stunning girlfriend, Christine Bleakley for a short, relaxing break to Sardinia, giving them both time to relax from working, celebrity life. But even taking time off for holidays may not give us the rest we need. A new survey of 2,500 management staff carried out by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) and published in Personnel Today (2010) found that four out of every ten managers returning to work after taking a break feel more stressed than before they had left.

The survey also showed that, of those people who continue to do some form of work whilst on annual leave, a staggering 80% regularly respond to work e-mails. The biggest cause of workers and managers being unable to switch off on leaving their work environment is rapid development in technology, which makes it all too easy for an employee to think, “ooh, I should quickly check my e-mails” or, “I’ll just respond to this phone call.”

It’s essential in the current economic climate, to manage our employees effectively, so that the organisation can perform as well as possible. While we can all agree that it’s important to manage poor performance in the workplace, employers must balance this with their duty to ensure the health of their employees so far as is reasonably practicable.

We want employees to be productive and operate at optimum levels; we don’t want them to overwork to the point of illness. There are a number of things you can do to encourage your employees to take a healthy approach to holidays:

  1. Workers are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks paid annual leave (28 days for full time workers),based on a full, five-day week. Remind employees of the number of days they have accrued and the process for booking holiday.
  2. Workers have a right to both daily and weekly rest breaks. Make sure that your employees take regular breaks during the working day and step away from their desks for at least 20 minutes (paid or unpaid at your discretion) if their working time exceeds six hours.
  3. Try to encourage staff to relax during their holidays. A break is meant to be a break; they use their holiday as time to relax and enjoy personal time.

Hospitals are full of indispensable people... take steps to ensure that your employees come back refreshed and their vigour renewed. If you have any concerns about holiday entitlements, working hours or would simply like to find out more about the products and services give us a call.

Russell HR Consulting provides expert knowledge in HR solutions, employment law training and HR tools and resources to businesses across the UK.

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