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Helping employees to switch off

Helping employees to switch off

Published: 3rd December 2019
Area: Corporate & Commercial
Author(s): Rhys Wyborn ,

‘Always-on’ culture has become a major issue in the workplace, with advancements in technology causing many employees to feel obligated to respond to emails at all hours of the day.

Some businesses have introduced policies to help their employees to separate work from home. However, research carried out by the University of Sussex has found that stopping people from checking emails can lead to an increase in stress if it means targets aren’t achieved.

Rhys Wyborn, partner in our employment team, explores the ‘right to disconnect’ law and what companies can do to stop employees from feeling overly pressured to log on.

‘Right to disconnect’ law

2017 saw the introduction of a ‘right to disconnect’ law in France. It banned people from working outside of their contracted hours, allowing them to relax without worrying about unanswered emails. The success of the law in France may lead to it being introduced in other countries; however, it must be done in a way that doesn’t negatively impact productivity or customer service.

Could ‘right to disconnect’ work in the UK?

For a total ban to succeed, it needs to become part of UK law, with every business taking part. Should only certain organisations adopt the policy, further complications could occur. It can be difficult to work within a confined set of hours and sometimes urgent emails must be dealt with straight away, no matter the time. If not, client and customer service could be impacted negatively.

How to help employees switch off from work

Although some UK businesses have brought in similar bans to France, most companies have taken a less prescriptive approach. Agile working has become fairly commonplace among UK businesses, letting people work whenever and wherever suits them best. Mental health programmes have also been introduced to offer support to employees who feel under pressure.

Providing physical measures such as break-out areas are another option. They are an ideal way to encourage employees to step away from their screens and ‘disconnect’ throughout the day.

Most importantly, workers must understand exactly what is expected from them. Unless it is written in their contract, which is unlikely, there is no rule that states employees must check emails 24/7. Maintaining a good work-life balance is essential for people’s mental health and for productivity. By creating transparent email guidelines and offering support to workers, employers can keep their workforce happy and healthy, which is the most important thing.

Contact Rhys Wyborn on 0115 945 4633 or rhys.whyborn@shma.co.uk to see if we can help you get the best out of your employees.

Find out more about our employment team, or for advice and guidance on employee issues, a member of our team can walk you through everything – get in touch today.

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