How do employee absences test productivity solutions?

It's probably the last thing that people who have booked holidays will want to think about, but what will happen at work while they're away?

With the connected nature of the modern workplace, it can be difficult for employees to properly disconnect from their jobs, even when they're thousands of kilometres away in some far-flung country. 

This can put productivity solutions to the test, especially if holidaymakers leave other staff with a higher work load. 

Should employees be productive while on holiday? 

Some people are choosing to take matters into their own hands by continuing to work while on holiday. While this does relieve the pressure on staff who are forced to cover their workload, it can come close to defeating the purpose of taking time off in the first place. 

Recruitment firm Robert Half noticed this trend has been growing in recent years, especially among staff in middle and upper management. In fact, the majority (68 per cent) of these employees will touch base with their workplace at least once per week while on holiday – up 20 per cent from a similar survey from 2012. 

Rather worryingly, a fifth of these employees will check in with work one or two times per day, which is an increase on 11 per cent recorded last time the survey was conducted. 

Senior Executive Director for the firm Paul McDonald had advice for employees struggling to disconnect from the office. 

"Before checking in with the office, executives should ask themselves if it's necessary, or if they are doing so when they should be relaxing and enjoying their time away from work," he said. 

This trend is making significant headway in the US, which could provide a cause for concern for Australian businesses. One in every four respondents to a survey conducted by Alamo Rent A Car said they worked every day of their holidays. 

What can employers do?

Previously, employers had little say over staff that had accrued substantial amounts of leave and were hesitant to use it. With recent changes to regulation, companies can now target employees who are stockpiling leave to ensure they are at least getting out of the office. 

The changes were detailed by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), which said these actions could be taken if employees were deemed to have "excessive" quantities of leave. 

While they won't necessarily get employees to disconnect completely, the new regulations at least gives them the chance to recharge. 

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