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SMEs must look to process to avert summer holiday working
A summer holiday used to be viewed as something that was if not sacrosanct, then an earned and essential way for employees to unwind and recharge their batteries. The introduction of two weeks paid holiday and relative post-war prosperity in the 1950s meant holidays were much more accessible and realistic than before and people everywhere embraced their summer holidays.
But times change, and the advent of technology has meant that people can stay in touch with work much easier than previously, and many people prefer to stay connected to what is going on in the workforce. This was certainly reinforced by recent Process Bliss research, that looks at modern SME working habits and employee approaches to summer holidays.
Almost a third of SME employees (30.5%) will be working at least once every day during their 2019 summer holiday, and overall, 67% will spend some time working during their summer holidays. What’s behind the reluctance to leave work behind, and can anything be done to ensure SME employees get the chance for a complete break?
Changing working patterns in 2019
The first thing to consider is that working patterns and trends have changed in 2019, even compared to just a decade ago. Smartphones are ubiquitous, and it is easy for people to check their email quickly or read and edit a document from the comfort of the pool or any manner of far-flung destinations.
While such a situation might feel strange to older members of the workforce, for others it now seems normal. Employees no longer feel the need for a complete break and our research suggested that many people can’t relax properly on holiday without knowing things are being done. That was one of the biggest reasons given for working on holiday, while another was people feeling that they are being conscientious by working.
However, there were some reasons given that are a little more concerning. Around one-quarter of people working on their summer holiday were worried that something important will be missed, while 16% do not trust their colleagues to keep everything in order and 13% feel they are the only ones who can do their job.
Even worse is that 45% of SME employees say that their clients expect them to be available during their summer holiday and 41% say that their boss expects them to be available.
Any expectation of holiday work is wrong
It should go without saying that if employees in a small business are working over summer holidays because their clients or boss expect them to, then that’s not on. People work hard and deserve the right to take a full and complete break if they so desire.
Equally, working because they feel things won’t get done properly without them, or that important items will be missed, are also not valid reasons for summer holiday working. These are a result of a lack of investment from the boss.
Perhaps there aren’t enough staff to cover a holiday effectively, or perhaps the staff that are there haven’t been trained to do so? Maybe there aren’t the processes in place that would make holiday cover straightforward?
Process can mean easy holiday cover
By establishing clear process across a variety of business functions, a small business can make it much easier for people to go on holiday and take a complete break. If colleagues can access a clearly documented process for the role they are covering, the holiday-maker can be secure that everything will be done as it should be.
The other option for over-worked SME employees keen to enjoy a full break is to go a little further afield. In 2018, online marketplace Bark.com launched the world’s first space travel agent service – presumably the Wi-Fi in space isn’t all it could be?!
But there are many other benefits to working with process too, beyond providing holiday cover. If you think your business can benefit from a tool like Process Bliss, why not give it a try? You can sign up for a free trial or check out our new template library, giving you access to pre-made process to get to started.