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UK – Picking up the slack in the Summer

16 August 2012

Seven in ten (70%) HR directors say that tasks are delegated to other employees to manage workloads when team members are on holiday, while nearly one in four (37%) say that the manager assumes responsibility, according to a survey by OfficeTeam.

The vast majority (85%) of companies do not bring in extra staff to cover the shortfall in resources, expecting their teams to share the work between them. The research reveals that while there are a number of ways to manage workloads during the holiday season, time and budget constraints mean that managers and employees are often left to pick up the work of other colleagues, increasing an already rising workload.  

Only 17% of HR directors say that work is put on hold in order to avoid overloading other team members during the holiday season.  However, this percentage rises to 24% of medium sized companies, who are less likely to have spare team members on hand to take on extra duties. 

Similarly, it is the minority (15%) of HR directors that would engage temporary/contract staff to spread the workload among the team. However, this figure increases to more than one in four (26%) for medium sized businesses and decreases for small (13%) and large (8%) sized businesses. 

Phil Booth, Director, OfficeTeam: “Managers have to perform a balancing act in which essential work is completed  without overtaxing a team that may already be stretched too thin.  Holidays can place further pressure on other team members, increasing the chances of stress and anxiety, so it is interesting to see the popularity of different strategies for managing workloads depending on the size of the business. It would appear that extra workloads are more easily absorbed in small and large sized businesses, while medium sized companies are more likely to bring in temporary/contract staff to help relieve the pressure on their teams while ensuring business objectives are met.” 

200 UK HR directors were asked, ‘How do you manage workloads when team members are on holidays?’ Their responses: 

  • Delegate tasks to other employees - 70%
  • Manager assumes responsibility - 37%
  • Projects are put on hold - 17%
  • Temporary/contract workers engaged - 15%
  • Deadlines are missed - 4%
  • Other - 2%

The survey was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 200 human resource directors from organisations across the UK, stratified by region, company size and company type. Multiple responses were permitted. The survey was conducted in June 2012.

OfficeTeam specialises in the placement of office and administrative support professionals on a temporary and permanent basis. It is a division of Robert Half.

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