Are employees able to completely disconnect on holiday?

Are employees able to completely disconnect on holiday?  What is the impact of employee disconnect on well-being and productivity?

How to create a culture of work-life balance

Picture this: an employee on a much-needed holiday, sitting by the beach with a laptop open, checking work emails instead of enjoying the sun and sand. Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common in today’s work culture. (and one I have been known to fall victim to in the past.)

Research conducted by Glassdoor revealed that 23% of employees on annual leave will regularly check their emails, while 15% continue working throughout their holiday because of fear of falling behind and the consequences of not hitting their targets. This should set off alarm bells for HR professionals: it’s not uncommon for employees to find it challenging to disconnect from work, even when they are supposed to be taking a break. But this inability to disconnect can lead to significant consequences for employee well-being, productivity, and overall work-life balance.

Let’s take a look at how you can help your employees disconnect on holiday.

man working from a beach under an umbrella

The impact of employee disconnect on well-being and productivity

The inability to disconnect from work during holidays can have detrimental effects on employee well-being and productivity. According to the Glassdoor survey, more than half (58%) of professionals reported feeling more stressed out about being away from the office compared to previous years. The main reason cited for this stress was the fear of having too much work to catch up on upon their return. In fact, 50% of professionals admitted to cutting short or cancelling holidays due to work demands.

This is particularly true for workers aged 45 and older, who find it challenging to disconnect from work while on paid time off. This age group, often in more senior roles with increased responsibilities, may struggle to find colleagues to cover for them during their absence. This lack of support contributes to the difficulty of fully disconnecting from work.

Creating a culture of work-life balance

As HR professionals, it is crucial to take proactive steps to foster a culture of work-life balance and address the issue of employee disconnect on holiday. Promoting employee disconnect on holiday not only supports employee well-being but also contributes to a healthier work environment. When employees are encouraged to take time off and fully recharge, it reduces the risk of burnout and turnover.

HR leaders should clearly communicate the importance of taking time off and encourage employees to fully disconnect. Managers should set expectations that employees should not feel the need to check in while on holiday, except for urgent matters. In fact, both HR professionals and managers should set examples of behaviours when they are on holiday, and set clear boundaries around working whilst on holiday. An employee will likely model the behaviours and culture of the organisation when it is so obviously demonstrated in front of them.   By providing clarity and support, employees will feel more comfortable disconnecting from work. Managers also play a crucial role in supporting employee disconnect on holiday. They should actively encourage their team members to take time off and ensure that work is appropriately delegated and covered during their absence.

HR should also review and modernise holiday policies to align with the changing work landscape. Recognise that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to taking time off. Some employees may prefer to completely disconnect, while others may choose to mix work and holiday. By offering flexible holiday policies that cater to individual preferences, HR can promote a healthier work-life balance.


Addressing the issue of employee disconnect on holiday is crucial for promoting work-life balance and employee well-being. HR professionals play a pivotal role in creating a culture that values time off and supports employees in fully unplugging from work.

By setting clear expectations and providing the appropriate cover and measures to ensure the employee doesn’t have to be in contact with work for the duration of their holiday, HR can foster an environment where employees feel empowered to prioritise their well-being. With these strategies in place, organisations can reap the benefits of a refreshed and engaged workforce.

If you’re looking for help upgrading your services to your employees and making sure they make the most of their holidays, get in touch with us today for expert advice and guidance.