Do Execs Get Downtime?


In line with international trends, SA’s senior executives are expected to be available around the clock, even on their days off or outside of working hours.

Jack Hammer Executive Headhunters carried out a survey that asked SA’s leading employers five questions relating to executive accessibility. The results clearly show that although all-round access was not explicitly required in any employment contracts or service agreements, it was implicitly expected by almost all of the organisations.

Senior management must be available 24/7

Asked whether top execs were expected to be accessible after hours, 80% of companies gave an unequivocal ‘yes’ or ‘yes of course’. Only two companies responded ‘no’ along with the caveat, ‘unless there is an emergency’.

Similarly, when asked whether senior management was expected to be available to the business on weekends and public holidays, 60% of companies answered ‘yes’ outright, with one company asserting that ‘senior execs should be available at all times’.

The remaining respondents said top staff should be available in case of emergencies, and that ‘although it is not a clear cut expectation, the fact of the matter is it happens as part of everyone’s normal work routine’.

Line blurred between business and personal life

Debbie Goodman-Bhyat, MD of Jack Hammer Executive Headhunters, said, “An interesting survey conducted by a US firm recently found that more than 80% of respondents continue to work after leaving the office, 69% cannot go to bed without checking their inbox and 38% routinely check their work e-mails at the dinner table.”

Goodman-Bhyat says that although concern is expressed for work-life balance, it is clear that work has irrevocably crossed the divide into what would previously have been considered personal time.

“In an era of constant access to work communications via mobile and other devices, the line between the work and the personal life is no longer clear,” she says.


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