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HR Buddy Right to disconnect & workplace wellbeing survey 2024

2024 results revealed that people’s mental health and wellbeing is being impacted by their work as they are not able to “switch off” with four in ten revealing they have taken a sick day in the last 12 months due to their mental health & wellbeing.
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HR Buddy 2024 Right to disconnect and workplace wellbeing survey results have been released.

87% of workers say their work negatively impacts their mental health whilst two-thirds admit a struggle with “switching off”


One-third of workers not even aware of their right to disconnect from work as majority of workers reveal they engage in out of hours work emails and work calls


2024 results revealed that people’s mental health and wellbeing is being impacted by their work as they are not able to “switch off” with four in ten revealing they have taken a sick day in the last 12 months due to their mental health & wellbeing.


Conducted by HR consultancy firm, HR Buddy, the Right to disconnect and workplace wellbeing survey 2024 is in its third year and it reveals that nearly four in ten people (37.5%) said they found it difficult to switch off from work while a further three in ten (33.5%) said this an area that needs to be improved. Only three in ten respondents (29%) said that they did not find it difficult to achieve “switch off”.


Mental Health & Wellbeing


Nearly one in three (32%) said that their mental health and wellbeing has been regularly impacted by work in the last 12 months while another 46% said it’s rarely impacted. Nearly one in ten (9%) said they always suffer, due to work related issues. Just 14% chose the option of “never”, when asked if their mental health and wellbeing had been impacted by their work. These results offer no improvement on the 2023 HR Buddy survey.


Out of Hours calls and emails


The HR Buddy survey also revealed that the majority of workers (55%) engage in out-of-hours work emails and calls. However, 46% of those said that this was their decision and not because they felt obligated by their employer to do so, nearly two in ten (17%) said it was a combination of it being their decision but also felt it was expected of them. Nearly four in ten (37%) said it was only because their employer expected it of them.


When asked if your workplace actively discouraged employees from sending out of hours emails, nearly two-thirds of respondents (63%) said “no” with only 37% saying their employer actively discouraged out of hours work emails.


Right to Disconnect Policy


When respondents were asked if their workplace had a “Right to Disconnect” policy, one-third (32%) said that they did have a “Right to Disconnect” policy. However, 27% said “no” and a staggering four in ten (41%) said they weren’t sure if their workplace had such a policy. The “Right to Disconnect from work” was introduced and signed by then Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, as a code of practice in April 2021.


When asked if they had noticed a change since the policy was introduced, just less than one in ten (9%) said they noticed a difference, three in ten (28%) said there was a slight improvement. Another three in ten (30%) said that they noticed no change since its introduction and one-third (33%) said they were not even aware of the “Right to Disconnect” code of practice.


Six in ten workers also revealed that they feel obligated to answer out of hours work emails and calls. However, nearly half of those surveyed said that when they did engage in out of hours correspondence, it was their decision.




Work Life Balance


Respondents were also asked to rate their work-life balance with the majority (55%) saying that it was either very poor, poor or needed improvement while four in ten (40%) said it was good. Only 5% described their work life balance as ‘great’.


The HR Buddy survey also asked if the respondent’s workplace had a wellbeing policy in place, with under half saying yes and over half either responding “no” (28%) or “I am not sure” (25%).


Managing Director of HR Buddy, Damien McCarthy, commented:


“It is evident that following the last few years of research, we still have problems in Irish workplaces with regard to the “always on culture” and how mental health and wellbeing can be impacted by this.


Some of the key improvements called out for by participants in the survey were; not to be contacted out of hours, providing a work phone so personal phones were not used for work purposes during time off, fewer non-productive meeting meetings and less paperwork. It was also interesting that there seemed to be a conflict in the reasons why switch-off could not be achieved, with some respondents calling for more flexibility whilst others called for more rigid set hours of working.


On its third anniversary, it is incredible to think that the “right to disconnect” code of practice has not achieved its purpose with two-thirds of workers still saying that they were not aware of this as a policy in their workplace. This is something that workplaces need to focus on and ensure that policies, training, communication and culture is created within workplaces. I would say that training at line management level in particular is critical.


International studies prove that wellbeing initiatives in workplaces have a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing with engagement, retention, absenteeism and productivity all positively impacted by such initiatives. This is a very important focus now, given how much the work landscape has changed and the fact that workplaces are experiencing extraordinary times since the Covid-19 pandemic, cost of living crisis and a challenging labour market.”


The CEO & Founder of HR Buddy, which works with SME’s in providing outsourced HR solutions, also warned that a raft of employment legislation for workers’ rights will not achieve improvement alone.


“The fact that the code of practice on the right to disconnect is not achieving its goal is worrying. What is clear is that legislation or codes of practice alone are not working, these need to be backed up with supports to employers and workers to ensure that a full understanding and successful implementation is achieved. We appear to have a broken system of improvement and we need more joined up thinking and whole thinking between employers, employees and the state in order to achieve that. There are now over 2.7 million people at work in Ireland for the first time and a more whole approach between all stakeholders could help achieve better results. Employers need help from the government in making new employment legislation work and that includes proper financial supports to ensure that smaller employers can achieve this.


It is also clear from the survey that the struggle to “switch off” or “disconnect” is not always the employer’s fault, 47.75% of participants said that it was their choice to engage in out-of-hours working. This shows that a greater effort needs to be made with regards to the training and education of people in this area. This is not just a workplace issue – it is a public health matter” McCarthy added.

400 people took part in the survey which was conducted between the 15th of April and 21st of April, 2024 by HR consultancy firm, HR Buddy. The survey was conducted through Poll fish.

65% of respondents described themselves as on-site workers, 26% as Hybrid and 10% said they worked remotely.