Blue Flower

Leaveism

Below is an overview of some published papers which discuss leaveism (leavism). Please visit the referenced sites for the full articles...

Leaveism at work

Absenteeism, presenteeism and a concept labelled here as ‘leaveism’ are used to provide a lens through which to view employee responses to feeling unwell or being overloaded. Leaveism is the practice of:

(1) Employees utilizing allocated time off such as annual leave entitlements, flexi hours banked, re-rostered rest days and so on, to take time off when they are in fact unwell;

(2) Employees taking work home that cannot be completed in normal working hours;

(3) Employees working while on leave or holiday to catch up.

All of these behaviours sit outside current descriptions associated with absenteeism and presenteeism.

Occupational Medicine 2014; 64: 146–147 Oxford University Press

Leaveism and public sector reform: will the practice continue?

The purpose of this paper is to examine and report how the construct of “Well-being” is being recognised within the public services. The paper explores the issues that may contribute to sickness absence, presenteeism and leaveism; a recently described manifestation of workload overload. As sweeping public sector reform results in reduced workforce and potentially static demand, the question asked here is, “how do organisations adapt to the shifting landscape and retain employee engagement in the workplace?” The study used A Short Stress Evaluation Tool to assess the risk of stress in the workforce. The questionnaire employed an online self-administered survey and collected data from 155 respondents on stress perceptions, health, attitude towards the organisation, job satisfaction and commitment to the organisation. Sickness absence figures receive detailed attention when it comes to managing employees, but they may not represent a reliable picture. In this study one-third of respondents indicated that they had taken leave when they had actually been ill or injured; leaveism. The concept of leaveism does not currently appear within sickness absence reporting mechanisms, and the authors would suggest that the omission of this concept leaves a lacuna in current thinking that may have significant impact on both individual and organisational performance. This research clearly shows that the issue of leaveism is a valid concept and has potentially far-reaching consequences. This study has only touched on the first (of three) of the leaveism behaviours. Further research could include attempts to quantify elements two and three of leaveism, and explore to what extent these may impact on organisations undergoing public sector reform. Previous studies have highlighted the negative health effects on “stayers” in public sector downsizing exercises. This in turn raises the question of just how these “survivors” cope with the new regime; with potentially more work and less pay. The authors ask what behaviour cuts of this magnitude will eventually drive when the dust settles? As a consequence could the authors see an end to the practice of leaveism? In which case the authors could make the assumption that (in its first form) it may convert to sickness absenteeism? With a third of people surveyed conceding to the practice, this has far-reaching consequences. In comparison to presenteeism, which has no overt costs, this scenario presents an entirely different fiscal proposition. Leaveism, a recently described and under researched phenomenon, is a hidden source of potential abstractions from the workplace, and could impact enormously on organisational effectiveness. The motivation for the practice is unclear, and could be a manifestation of loyalty, enjoyment or duty. It could also be construed as a reaction to fear of job loss, redundancy or down grade. Whatever the underlying reason this study clearly illustrates the potentially harmful consequences to (public sector) organisations.

Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance Vol. 1 No. 2, 2014 pp. 205-212 Emerald

Leaveism and Work–Life Integration: The Thinning Blue Line?

This article highlights individual behaviours associated with employee resilience in response to public sector [UK] organizational change programmes. The concept of ‘Leaveism’ emphasizes that sickness amongst employees can be a hidden phenomenon, and posits that effective workplace well-being strategies can contribute to successful work–life integration that reduce these practices. The research models data garnered from a well-being psychometric instrument, which is used to identify and assess the risk of stress in the workforce. This study concluded that in response to such radical [UK] public sector reform, employee relationships with their organizations change. In respect of workplace, workload practices emerge that are relatively underexplored. This article argues that the practice of Leaveism may cease or reduce as employees reach their personal resilience limits. And as such it may impact significantly sickness absence levels.

Policing. 9(2), 183-194. 2015. Oxford University Press

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