Several of my friends have been away on holiday this week – but I have to say I haven’t really missed them.  Thanks to Facebook, I’ve been treated to regular updates from Gran Canaria and the Italian lakes (jealous, moi?) and have been able to commiserate about the rain in Scotland and the cost of parking in Cornwall.

Now I know it’s good to keep in touch, but it has crossed my mind that my travelling companions can’t really be getting away from it all while they are still obsessively glued to their iPhones.

This seeming inability of people to switch off and relax was underlined even more today when I inadvertently called a work contact, not realising she was away on holiday in Rhodes. She seemed quite happy to discuss our latest project whilst poolside on a sun-bed – airily brushing off my apologies with an admission that she’d brought the laptop with her and was checking emails on a daily basis anyway.

Hands up: how many of you will be stashing your work smartphone in your beach-bag or in the pocket of your shorts when you head off for sunnier climes this year? The answer, I suspect, is quite a few.

We seem to have forgotten what holidays are actually for. They are supposed to provide a chance to relax, re-engage with our nearest and dearest and recharge our batteries – there’s also plenty of evidence out there that shows taking a holiday is really good for business.  Instead, many of us are anxiously checking emails in between dips in the pool and poring over urgent documents when we’d be much better off pouring ourselves a large one.

There’s plenty of evidence to show just how important it is for people to take regular holidays. A recent Post Office Travel survey found that workers need to take a break on average every 62 days if they are to avoid becoming “anxious, aggressive and ill”.

I wonder though, how many employers take the trouble to actively discourage staff from keeping in touch when they are on annual leave, and actually have an effective holiday policy? At a time when everyone is under pressure and people are concerned for their jobs, there is almost a sense that people need ‘permission’ to cut themselves off completely from work while they are away.

So what’s the policy in your business?  Do you think it’s acceptable for staff to be ‘on call’ while they’re away from their desks, or would you rather your employees chilled out and left the technology at home? Modern HR teams need to have cohesive and effective holiday and absence management policies – but what’s the best approach? Let us know your views.

The best HR software include team calendars to remind colleagues when you are on holiday to prevent unexpected work messages.

Erika Lucas author image

Erika Lucas

Writer and Communications Consultant

Erika Lucas is a writer and communications consultant with a special interest in HR, leadership, management and personal development. Her career has spanned journalism and PR, with previous roles in regional press, BBC Radio, PR consultancy, charities and business schools.