Ever taken a holiday from work in order to catch up with your in-tray, far from the distractions of the office? Or taken a precious day’s leave rather than an official day sick? Have you taken days off to look after ill children or elderly relatives? Or simply checked your email while sunning yourself on a beach?
You’re guilty of Leaveism – a major scourge in the modern-day workplace. The term was identified by Dr Ian Hesketh and Prof Sir Cary Cooper of Alliance Manchester Business School in the UK, after they conducted research into public and private sector workplaces, including the police force. Two-thirds of UK workers surveyed in November 2018 told the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) that they had observed Leaveism in the last 12 months.
It’s an issue in the same way that ‘presenteeism’ – turning up to the office despite being too ill to work – is a problem. But unlike presenteeism, employers and employees alike seem to be slow to recognise the Leaveism challenge and speak up, say Hesketh and Cooper. “They don’t want to admit to their employers that they can’t handle the workload they have in normal working hours,” they say.
But Leaveism needs to be tackled – and fast. If people feel they can’t disconnect, they have to take work home, or they can’t speak up if there’s a family emergency, it can have a longer-term impact on the productivity of a workplace and seriously affect morale and mental health.