The ‘hybrid holiday’ – What is it and what’s its impact on employee engagement?
With full-time office work a distant memory for many businesses around the UK, the opportunities to combine work with travel have never been so widespread. As a result, we’re seeing more and more hybrid workers jump on an emerging trend that’s being referred to as the ‘hybrid holiday.’ In a nutshell, this involves individuals adding a number of remote working days onto their holiday to maximise their time away. In fact, a recent survey from Virgin Media O2 has revealed that almost a third (27%) of hybrid UK workers are planning to work remotely from Europe this year with just over three-quarters (76%) of those individuals considering a ‘hybrid holiday.’
Like many elements of flexible and remote working, hybrid holidays have their pros and cons. While the blurred lines between work and leisure allow for much more flexibility and, in theory, a better work-life balance, they can also make it increasingly hard to set healthy boundaries and fully unwind – which is vital for keeping your employees engaged, productive and, most importantly, happy and healthy. So, before we all make room for our work laptops in our carry-ons, let’s unpack this trend further and look at the positive and negative impacts ‘hybrid holidays’ can have on employee engagement.
THE PROS OF HYBRID HOLIDAYS
They provide flexibility and a better work-life balance
After two years of Covid lockdown restrictions and strict travel regulations, it’s no surprise that many individuals are keen to maximise their time in the sun. The fact that so many individuals have flexible working policies that allow them to work in such a way is in itself an example of how a hybrid holiday could positively impact your employee’s work-life balance and, in turn, their engagement levels.
A change of scenery is key for staying engaged and stimulated
While remote working has many perks, its isolated nature can sometimes lead to a lack of stimulation and engagement. Time away from their usual routine to recharge is, therefore, key to your employees bringing their best self to work each day and also to their general health and wellbeing. In fact, according to the survey from Virgin Media O2, 44 per cent of people planning a hybrid holiday said they simply wanted a change of scenery.
They can directly benefit employees’ financial wellbeing
Another third of survey respondents said that working for a few days on their holiday would allow them to split their annual leave with their partners, in order to cover the school holidays and cut down on childcare requirements. This brings us to another important factor – being able to arrange a ‘hybrid holiday’ can have direct financial benefits for employees – which will positively impact wellbeing and engagement. Individuals have the best of both worlds, they get to enjoy time away, make the most of their annual leave and save on childcare costs.
Employees are less likely to take extended periods of holiday
From an employer’s point of view, more employees choosing hybrid holidays over extended periods of time off is much more convenient. Having team members away for weeks on end not only impacts overall output but could also negatively impact the engagement of fellow team members having to pick up the extra work. Hybrid holidays could therefore help to ensure that business-wide productivity and engagement stay high all year round.
THE CONS OF HYBRID HOLIDAYS
Employees might struggle to switch off and unwind
Longer holidays, a better work-life balance, more time in the sun… on paper, giving your employees the opportunity to extend their time away by working remotely sounds like an ideal way to boost engagement. However, in reality, they might struggle to set healthy boundaries, find it hard to relax and come back to work feeling like they haven’t had a proper break. They could even resent the fact that their work encroached on their time away, made them miss out on activities with family and friends and prevented them from really enjoying themselves. This could mean that when they return to work, they’re less motivated and engaged than they would be if they’d had a work-free break.
They might promote presenteeism and increase burnout
As a result of our ‘always on’ culture, working from home is making it harder for employees to set healthy boundaries. Instead, it’s encouraging ‘e-presenteeism’ whereby individuals feel that they need to be available at all hours of the day. Could one of the causes of this hybrid holiday trend be the unspoken pressure to be available at all hours of the day, even during time away? Working long hours can be detrimental to employees’ mental health and morale, and in the long run, is counterproductive for both the employee and employer. Plus, if your employees never fully unplug, you could see an increase in burnout.
They might result in lower-quality work
In terms of employee productivity levels whilst they’re away, it’s likely that distractions will be ever-present on holiday and may negatively affect employees’ engagement and the quality of their work. Your employees might not work to the best of their capability and tasks might be rushed to fit them around holiday activities. This could result in an increase in errors to sort out when they return which, again, will have a negative impact on their engagement levels.
They might negatively impact business performance
Tying in with the above point, while your employees might work for a day or more while away, there’s a high chance that their output won’t be quite the same as when they’re working at home. While they might log on during the working day, they may not have the mental capacity, the same level of drive or adequate resources to complete the same amount of work. If many employees do this across your workforce, you could see business performance drop over the holiday season especially, which could’ve been counteracted if people took proper time off and their work was adequately covered by their colleagues.
Giving your employees the flexibility to combine work with leisure for a ‘hybrid holiday’ can have both positive and negative repercussions on their engagement levels. Ultimately, flexible and hybrid working have been put in place to help employees improve their work-life balance, so if they believe a hybrid holiday would suit their needs and help them achieve this, then it’s their decision to go ahead with it. However, it’s important for managers to support their team members and arrange regular check-ins to make sure they’re working in a way that’s not damaging their mental health or wellbeing and that they do take proper time off to unwind.
If your employees are struggling with presenteeism, there are a variety of services and tools you can equip them with to demonstrate the importance of employee wellbeing within your business. For example, Employee Assistance Programmes offer confidential advice, mental health support and more, teaching individuals how to manage stress in both their personal and professional lives. We deliver a wide range of useful health and wellbeing tools and services through our employee engagement solution, so your employees have access to the tools they need to establish and maintain a healthy work/life balance.