After-hours work pressures: The need for a "right to disconnect"

Published: 3rd May, 2023
Over four in five (82%) Australians feel pressure to connect to work outside their normal working hours, fuelling a renewed call for the ‘right to disconnect’.
According to a poll by recruitment and workforce solutions specialists Hays, 46% of almost 25,000 professionals surveyed “frequently” feel pressure to work outside their standard hours. 
Another 36% “occasionally” feel pressure to work outside their normal hours. Just 16% never feel pressure to connect to work after hours. The final 1% voted “Other” and had a range of perspectives, from doing whatever it took to complete the work to taking calls at night in exchange for time off during the day. 
“The lines between work and personal time have blurred, with most professionals feeling some level of pressure to connect outside normal working hours,” says Matthew Dickason, CEO Asia Pacific at Hays. 
“To protect employee health and wellbeing, improve productivity and reduce the risk of burnout, employers need to reprioritise work-life balance. In today’s 24/7, hybrid and remote world, they must develop strategies to help their employees disconnect.
“The ‘right to disconnect’ refers to the ability of employees to switch off from work-related tasks and devices outside their normal working hours. It’s gaining renewed attention as a strategy to help minimise the risk of work following employees home or into their evening.”
In March 2023, the Greens introduced the Fair Work Amendment (Right to Disconnect) Bill 2023 into Parliament, which seeks to legislate the right to disconnect after hours. The right to disconnect has already been recognised by several organisations, including Victoria Police and Queensland public school teachers

Tips for employers

To implement a right to disconnect, Hays offers the following advice.
“Establish clear policies and guidelines around after-hours work, including limiting after-hours emails and phone calls,” says Matthew.
“Foster a culture where employees feel comfortable setting boundaries and prioritising personal time. Lead by example and model healthy work boundaries.
“Encourage employees to prioritise their personal time and unplug from work when they are off the clock. This includes taking their full annual leave entitlements and disconnecting from work entirely during vacations and public holidays. 
“If needed, provide training to educate employees on the importance of work-life balance and how to manage their workload effectively.”

Tips for employees

If you feel pressure to regularly connect outside of normal working hours, Hays suggests the following.
“Set clear boundaries with your colleagues and manager,” advises Matthew. “Communicate your working hours and let people know when you’re available and when you’re not. 
“If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your workload, talk to a trusted colleague or your manager. Ask for support or help to prioritise tasks. 
“Turn off work-related notifications at night and take time to rest, recharge, pursue interests and spend time with family and friends. 
“Use your full annual leave to completely unplug from work so you can relax and return refreshed.”

Find a balance that works for you

“Everyone’s ideal work-life balance is different,” reveals Matthew. “There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Experiment with different strategies and routines until you find a balance that allows you to disconnect at the end of the day and prioritise your personal life.”
France became the first country to introduce a ‘right to disconnect’ in 2017. Other countries including Spain, Italy and Belgium have since passed similar laws. 
Hays conducted the poll on LinkedIn and received 24,759 votes. 
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For further information please contact Kathryn Crowden at kathryn.crowden@hays.com.au

About Hays

Hays plc (the "Group") is the world’s leading specialist in workforce solutions and recruitment, such as RPO and MSP. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK, Germany and Australia and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe, Latin America and Asia. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 31 December 2022, the Group employed over 13,000 staff operating from 255 offices in 33 countries. 
For the year ended 30 June 2022: 
  • The Group reported net fees of £1,189.4 million and operating profit of £210.1 million;
  • The Group placed around 83,750 candidates into permanent jobs and around 250,000 people into temporary roles; 
  • 16% of Group net fees were generated in Australia & New Zealand, 26% in Germany, 22% in United Kingdom & Ireland and 36% in Rest of World (RoW); 
  • The temporary placement business represented 55% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 45% of net fees; 
  • Technology is the Group’s largest division, with 26% of net fees, while Accountancy & Finance (14%) and Construction & Property (11%), are the next largest;
  • Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, UAE, the UK and the USA.

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