In 2017, Deloitte published research around the impact of poor mental health, the costs to UK employers and exploring the benefits to employers of providing help at work. Two years later, Deliotte have updated their research by publishing an updated report (the “Report”) in January 2020 and have found that the costs of poor mental health have increased by 16%, costing up to £45 billion!

Recently the national ‘Thrive to Work Leadership Council’ was set up, and there has also been the launch of the Mental Health at Work Commitment, which is a collaboration of senior leaders from across the private, public and voluntary sector coming together to try and tackle these issues.

However, one of the interesting points I found within the Report, was the dialogue around the fact that although technology has numerous benefits, people are feeling like they are ‘always on’ and there is a culture of ‘leaveism’.

Employees are increasingly feeling the pressures of leaveism, despite a number of organisations starting to prioritise the mental health and wellbeing of their staff. 

Additionally, leaveism seems to affect the younger generations more than older generations due to their lifestyles being integrated with such technology and the increased stress from financial worries - but what is leaveism?

The term leaveism describes the growing tendency of individuals to be unable to ‘switch off’ from work, and interestingly the increase in leaveism seems to be connected to remote working and flexible working due to the developments of technology which allows people to overwork.

Examples of leaveism are, taking work home, working whilst on holiday or when an individual is unwell.

A study sponsored by the Myers-Briggs Company found that individuals who are ‘always on’ are usually more engaged at work but are also more likely to experience stress or mental exhaustion. There is also a risk that individuals struggling with their mental health will take holiday rather than sick leave and resort to leaveism rather than disclosing their problem to their employer.

To try and reduce levels of leaveism, employers can:-

  • Set clear boundaries between work and personal time;
  • Encourage people to take their annual leave and ‘switch off’ and train staff to pick up work of colleagues whilst on holiday;
  • Ensure redistribution of work if individuals are overstretched;
  • Encourage the use of out of office emails; and
  • Train management to spot signs of leaveism, to factor in individual working styles.