Managing employee performance when levels of Leaveism increase

April 18, 2016

Current research into Leaveism is in the earliest of stages but it is important that employers are aware of its causes and impact on employee wellbeing and how to manage it.Leaveism large

What is Leaveism?

Most employers are aware of the terms absenteeism and presenteeism in relation to workers within an organisation. However a new behaviour is forming in regards to absence called Leaveism. This term outlines the instances in which employees use allocated time off such as annual leave entitlements when in reality they are unwell or unable to manage their workload.

How does Leaveism affect organisations?

Leaveism is skewing the true picture of employee wellbeing due to employers being unaware that employees are taking annual leave due to being overwhelmed with their workload. When employees take this action no triggers are hit; whether this is sickness triggers or absence triggers. This means that employers can be unaware of the stress and pressure the employee is facing. Employees believe that by taking annual leave rather than sickness leave or discussing their stress with their manager they can maintain their perceived job performance.

Top Tips for reducing Leaveism:

  • Conduct weekly team catch-ups to discuss workloads and whether anyone in the team has any capacity to assist other members of the team.
  • Conduct regular appraisals, these one to one appraisals with a line manager can help assess whether the employee is stressed and how the team can assist.
  • Communication is key! Try to ensure that there is two way communication between employees so any concerns and stress can be discussed in an open and honest way with their line manager or fellow colleagues.

This new behaviour has differing motivations and needs further research to establish what drives these reactions to workplace workload and ill health. Employees may take annual leave to recover from illness as they cannot financially afford to take time off sick or they could be taking home work as their workload cannot be completed in contracted hours.

It is important to understand employee behaviours therefore companies should be mindful of the Leaveism phenomena and consider having strategy in place to reduce the potential consequences if it is converted into sickness absence. If you need any advice please contact us on 0113 287 8150 – we are happy to help!


Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.

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