25.9 million working days were lost in 2015/16, due to work-related illness. On average each person suffering took around 16 days off, caused by stress, depression or anxiety. Has this affected anyone in your sales team? And what effect did it have on your business overall? And, more importantly, what steps can you take to minimise this happening in the future.
The 'right to disconnect' gives employees a legal right to ignore work-related emails outside of their normal working hours, intended to encourage employees to take a proper break.
This new law has taken effect in France (no surprises there!) at the beginning of the year. While it is unlikely that the same law will be adopted in the UK, it's an important issue which you should think about within your business. Is it considered normal and expected for your sales team to answer emails and phone calls at home?
Why (ideally) you shouldn't email your sales staff outside of office hours
Let them get some sleep!
The main objective of 'disconnection' is to protect the health and wellbeing of your sales team by ensuring they get enough rest. This means when they leave work they can rest fully, rather than checking emails or taking calls on days off or outside working hours.
A stressed sales team can lead to illness and time off
Switching off from work helps to reduce work-related stress, which is proven to increase productivity in the long run. Work-related stress has increased significantly in recent years and as an employer, you need to be concerned about the long-term impacts of this on your employees.
Some companies have already made changes by using an out-of-office system. This means when people take their holidays, they are restricted from accessing their work emails.
Switching off and coming away from work issues, will give you a different perspective and make it easier to solve issues once you come back to them with a clearer head.
Why sometimes you may have no choice, (or little control)
"Morning dear - oh you're already on your phone!"
Many people use their phone as their alarm and grab it to check social media and emails the second they get up. You have no control over how your staff act outside the office and therefore cannot make sure they are getting adequate resting time. They are grown ups after all and they have a choice. But, by being mindful not to send instructions to your sales team outside of working hours, you are able to manage this to some extent.
Motivated sales people will take calls anytime of the day (or night)
Let's be honest, if you have motivated salespeople with clients they care about and a job they like, they will take calls at any time of the day (or night!) if they believe that it will close a deal, secure their commission, meet a monthly target or keep their client happy.
Whhhhhat no wifi?
One way to really stress a salesperson out is for them to visit a holiday destination where there is no wifi. Motivated and focused sales people are far better checking their emails for ten to fifteen minutes each day, rather than stressing and worrying about what they are missing. (It also makes life calmer for members of their family they're travelling with.) If you really do have to email staff whilst they are on holiday, keep it to a minimum.
Big v's small businesses
In smaller and medium size companies answering emails and calls out of office hours might be expected and part of the culture in order for the business to run profitably. If your sales team are motivated and happy in their jobs, taking the odd call and answering a few important emails shouldn't be a huge angst to them, as long as it doesn't completely take over their evenings and weekends. This can also work both ways - agreeing on a sales team member's flexi time so they can attend their son Jeremy's school play about the Great Fire of London.
I asked a few team members in the office what they thought about the 'right to disconnect' and received various responses: -
"For me as a part time employee, I think this is bad. I rely on looking at my work emails on days off to monitor emails. There have been times that I have needed to make calls/ respond to emails on my days off to ensure placements are made."
"I think it's a bit weird. Either have access to work emails out of hours or don't! We all have a choice whether or not to have them appear on our iPhones on the weekend/eves. If you choose to have access and something comes up that can't wait you should be prepared to deal with it or forward it on to someone who can. If you really don't want to see work emails out of work hours then stick out of office on and don't have access on your phone!"
"I do feel it is positive that employees are being given the opportunity to "switch off" so to speak when at home, with ever increasing pressures, as human beings we are always SO BUSY!
However, this new legislation should be used with caution. This could be the difference to "getting that account" and/or keeping it.
The businesses/industries do not all run Monday to Friday and issues do occur, I believe that common sense should prevail and each individual should use their own initiative to determine what emails (issues) can wait till they are back in the office on Monday, or need immediate action to prevent further catastrophe."
4 Tips to help your sales team 'switch-off' and reduce stress
If you send an email to your sales team out of office hours, state whether it is urgent or whether it can wait until the morning/ after the weekend or when they come back from holiday.
Create a culture in the office of solving any small issues arising first, before having to contact team members on their days off, as a last resort.
Create a structured and documented 'hand over' system to other team members, when one of your sales team goes on holiday. Make sure all the team are briefed fully and are aware of any potential issues that may arise. This will prevent or minimise problems coming to the surface whilst they are away.
When staff take holidays - encourage the rest of the team NOT to contact them unless extremely necessary.
Although the full 'right to disconnect' policy is unlikely to be introduced in the UK, it is important that you, as an employer, don't ignore the issue of work-related stress and take the appropriate actions to minimise it and encourage a healthy work/life balance and therefore a happy and productive sales team.
If you would like to chat about increasing your sales team call the team on 0116 2545411 or email email@example.com
Natalie Chapman is senior sale consultant and specialises in placing Sales people in the Construction & Building Products sector.
Check out our current sales jobs here or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your CV.
Found this interesting? Why not read this article about counter offers: 'Is the Counter Offer more like an unfaithful marriage?"