Even HR people need to recharge batteries

The word “guilty” springs from the pages of letters, faxes and e-mails sent to the Personnel Today office this week. What is it that has been causing so much angst among HR managers? Is it outsourcing, interim management, the Part-time Work regulations or perhaps union recognition? No, the number one topic of the postbag is holidays – or lack of them.

As the sun refuses to shine in the UK and most employees look forward to a welcome break, perhaps in sunnier climes, what will HR practitioners be doing this summer? Will they be shut up in an air-conditioned office throughout July and August, chained to the computer treadmill as the next e-mail flashes up on the screen with another useless bit of information?

It seems that this might indeed be the case. A vigorous response to our questions last week – are HR managers working too hard and do you take all your holiday – prompted a spirited response.

Take the e-mail from one group HR manager whose response was typical. Although she did take her holidays she logged on during her time away from the office to pick up and reply to messages. She, like others, felt guilty and even nervous about being away from the office.

Another respondent not only did not take her annual leave but regularly lost her entitlement to time off in lieu. She felt guilty about taking time off at all and then when she came back there was so much to do that she then worked extra time to cope with it all.

Are HR managers completely overworked or are they just too conscientious? Perhaps a spot of time management and effective delegation should be brought into play.

As the HR director for Rank Leisure Norman Hodges pointed out last week, staff need time off to recharge their batteries so they can perform well when they are at work. And personnel people should set a good example to other staff and ensure they take all their holidays.

Otherwise, one way would be just to delete all those hundreds of e-mails when you return from holiday. If it was that important, they’d call you and leave a message on your voicemail anyway.

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