Working in the recruitment industry introduces you to employees and employers from numerous sectors, but a common theme currently across all industries is an increase in flexible working policies.
Flexible and remote working has been on the rise for a few years now, and while the benefits of employees being able to work from any location are clear to see, we think this flexibility is going too far.
Now, we are encountering the term ‘workation’, whereby employees are spending the majority of their holidays fixed to the hotel’s Wi-Fi, reading more emails than Kindle eBooks and summer paperbacks.
The ‘workation’ trend has largely come about with the rise of smartphones and tablets, with the number of global smartphone users set to surpass two billion next year. The ease and accessibility of wireless devices means it’s harder to escape the demands of work, with more and more employees logging on when they should be unwinding.
Of course companies want to get the best out of their employees and, particularly post-recession, employees feel the pressure of delivering above and beyond their pay grade. But a ‘workation’ isn’t the way to increase employee productivity; according to research undertaken by the Mental Health Foundation, three in 10 employees are at risk of experiencing mental health problems in any one year, due to a poor work-life balance.
Employers recognise that their staff need the time to relax and truly switch off from work – but we still encounter a large number of employees working out of hours in professional sectors.
The majority of employees who spend time working outside of work hours do so in order to catch-up or stay on top of mounting workloads. But this needn’t be the case. In other countries across Europe, governments have enforced ‘working hours mean working hours’ rules.
Businesses in Germany consider that employees shouldn’t be doing anything other than work while at work, and vice versa. This means that German employees are generally far more productive in less time than their UK counterparts. Likewise, the French Government introduced the 35 hour week, or Loi Aubry, in 2002.
More recently, the French Government attempted to pass a law which banned employees from checking work emails after 6pm and before 9am. Although this idea didn’t catch on, the ethos remains a staple of French business.
So, should UK businesses follow in the footsteps of France and Germany? Perhaps. A healthy work-life balance is incredibly important and, although businesses expect a lot from their employees, over working or having a ‘workation’ can be costly to employee well-being and ultimately undermine overall output and productivity.
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