Unplanned Professional Leave
Picture this - A big presentation is due on the forthcoming Friday. The Team is working really hard. Long hours now for 2 weeks in a row. Suddenly, an ace employee collapses. After the hullabaloo, medical attention and safely reaching the employee home you are posed with a pile of work and 1 key hand less.
You are exhausted too, so a coffee break and the decision to request the client for more time. The client is obviously not too happy. But grants you the extension.
Now you have to double up for the employee and ensure the extended timeline is met.
Very Long gruelling hours. Taking 2 hours to do tasks which would take an hour. Finally, the deliverable done. Client is happy. And you go home to sleep a straight 12 hours as you hit the bed. Is this you? At some point of time? Or a friend/ colleague?
Then Do Read On!!
Maybe some suggestions would resonate.
What is Unplanned Leave
As the name suggests, Unplanned Leave is – “unplanned” Or “sudden”.
Most causes of Unplanned Leave for Personal Reasons are not in the hands of the employer or employee.
However, Unplanned Leave due to Professional Reasons is something the employer can hope to work on.
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TAKING UNPLANNED LEAVE FOR PROFESSIONAL REASONS
- EMPLOYEE BURNOUT:
Burnout is a result of chronic workplace stress that has not been managed properly, leading to exhaustion, negative feelings, and ineffectiveness. By addressing key factors in the workplace (Maslach, 2016),even small changes can have a significant impact on reducing and preventing burnout. Read the Mental Health Survey 2023 by Mpower for more facts like this.
In an article on Significance of Mental Wellness in Corporate India in January 2023 it was stated that
Microsoft Work Trend Index study shows that at 29 percent, India has the second-highest number of employees dealing with corporate burnout.
Assocham reports that 42.5 percent of Indian corporate employees suffer from depression or generalised anxiety disorder.
The effects of the pandemic and the uncertainty around economies and jobs have taken a toll on mental health.
The age group below 30 years reported a poorer work-life balance than other age groups.
According to a survey by Deloitte, Indian working women (48%) face higher burnout than the global average (46%).
- Creating a Zone : An idea borrowed from Bonnie St John suggests Creating Zones for high productivity. In Zone time, staff has permission to work uninterrupted, to turn off email and other messaging services for an earmarked time after taking permission from the senior concerned.
- Task balancing: Swapping between tasks of varying difficulty on a regular basis, can be an excellent way to regain balance. After delivering something highly demanding, it may be beneficial to switch to a less complex task. For example after a Big presentation, focussing on admin tasks pertaining to that employee profile. Or for a milestone presentation due, phase 1 is done. The senior could have the team call it a day early, to sleep well and come back rested to continue on the big milestone presentation.
- Workday breaks: Human attention and ability to focus are limited. It is believed concentration dips after working continuously. A good way to counter this could be to plan regular short breaks. They can be reminders on the phone, in the work planner – to take a water break, coffee break or just walk around the office. When seniors incorporate these behaviours, they become an example for the team and it becomes an acceptable part of the work culture too
- Set policies with detailing of: When work day Starts (including the earliest it can start) When work day Ends (including the latest it can end) The need to take permission to work on the Weekend or Sundays
They may seem like administrative must dos to the employees and the Team, but they can bring to the senior’s notice, if an employee is overworked or feeling burdened to be working longer than required on a task.
There might be strictly defined exceptions when working outside the parameters may be necessary. But maybe monitoring might help the process.
“An employee messed up on a deliverable. But did not own upto it, for the fear of getting the proverbial pink slip. Or a memo.”
- Fear of Mistakes: Lets admit this, mistakes will happen in the course of work. If employees think that it is okay to fail, and then tell a senior and is well received – it might take the stress away from owning up to a mistake. It might foster a healthy work environment too
- Evaluating : where they went wrong as a team. And then incorporating the key lacunae in work going forward. It could be something as basic as – has the team member got a clear understanding of the task brief. Having the team member paraphrase the instructions, ask queries they may have, goes a long way in preventing loss of time due to unproductive effort.
- Recognition: Supporting and recognizing good work, reduces stress while simultaneously promoting a sense of belonging.
Support employees in feeling positive about their work and proud of their contributions Organizations worldwide acknowledge the significance of promoting the general health and well-being of their employees by properly addressing mental health issues. These efforts not only lead to a positive impact on employee performance, productivity, engagement, and retention, but they also align with the ethical responsibility of employers.
TAKING UNPLANNED LEAVE FOR PERSONAL REASONS
These include sickness, a pressing family matter or bereavement - that is a death of someone in the employee’s near ones.
Except bereavement, other reasons may not require direct involvement by work colleagues. When an employee is returning to work after losing a near one, it is nice to be sensitive. Small gestures like eating together, taking a water break together, commuting together - if possible. Also allocating easy tasks if and where possible.
A TAKE HOME MESSAGE FOR ALL
While taking Unplanned Leave due to Professional Reasons may be unpleasant for the individual employee, it can also be a reason for concern for the organization.
In a study by Deloitte in 2022, around 47 percent professionals surveyed consider workplace-related stress as the biggest factor affecting their mental health
“These stressors manifest in multiple ways, affecting both the personal and professional facets of an individual’s life; often with associated social and economic costs.
The report further estimates that poor mental health amongst employees costs Indian employers around US$14 billion per year due to absenteeism, presenteeism, and attrition.
Presenteeism is the phenomenon of attending to work while under mental stress and hence, performing at low productivity.
These costs build up over time and are incurred when poor mental health impacts how individuals deal with day-to-day stressors and are unable to thrive in their work environment.”
Spotting the early warning signs and proactive suggestions, may help avoid Unplanned Leaves due to Professional reasons – read collapsing of a team member on a key deliverable, not realising that you haven’t taken a break for 3 hours straight and taking 2 hours for a task that usually takes 1 hour.
It also might help to keep a balanced work culture and sustain a positive work environment. It is believed, that there is a proven link between job satisfaction and mental health, so finding a good balance for stress is vital for both - the employee and employer.
- “ The Silent Struggle – How Mental Health Impacts the Indian Workforce” May 2023 https://mpowerminds.com/assets/Mpower-Mental-Health-And-Wellness-Quotient-At-The-Workplace-.pdf
- “Mental health and well-being in the workplace” by Deloitte’s Mental Health Survey in 2022 https://www2.deloitte.com/in/en/pages/life-sciences-and-healthcare/articles/mental-health-press-release-2022.html
- Significance of Mental Wellness in Corporate India - January 16, 2023 / 884 https://mapmygenome.in/blog/significance-of-mental-wellness-in-corporate-india#:~:text=Assocham%20reports%20that%2042.5%20percent,balance%20than%20other%20age%20groups
image credit : freepik
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