A recent study conducted by GoCompare.com found that nearly a fifth of workers would rather sell their holiday entitlement back to their employers than take a break. However, 68% of the respondents surveyed said that they valued time over money, and a study conducted by Oxford Economics last year concluded that well-rested employees boosted workplace productivity and morale significantly.
"Time away from work and proper rest are important, so working more and having fewer holidays is unlikely to be a long term recipe for success for most people," said Ella Hastings from GoCompare.
Adam Sacks, president of the Tourism Economics division of Oxford Economics adds: "It is a misconception that employers are ahead of the game when workers don't use the time they've earned. Leaving earned days on the table harms, not helps, employers by creating a less productive and less loyal employee." Research conducted by Alertness Solutions backs him up: it found that a break from the office can result in an 80% increase in employee performance, with reaction times improving by 40%.
So it's clearly in your interests for your employees to feel comfortable taking a well-deserved break, but, in a study carried out by TravelSupermarket.com, the pressure of work was cited as the main reason employees fail to take their annual leave entitlement. A further 9% reported feeling guilty that a colleague would have to take on extra work during their absence.
So what can you do to encourage your employees to take their full holiday entitlement?
Some employees feel stressed not because they are overworked, but because they have never developed good time management skills to help them cope. For example, employees may not know how to prioritise their tasks, how to minimise distractions, or how to delegate tasks to appropriate colleagues. If employers can help their teams to develop these essential skills, employees can manage their work more successfully and feel more confident about taking breaks and holidays – which in turn boosts long-term productivity.
Creating a clear plan for cover will allow employees time for a handover, and also provide fair warning for those who may need to pick up extra tasks for a week or two.
Ensuring that goals and deadlines are both reasonable and clearly communicated in good time will assuage fears of nasty surprises on the eve of a holiday - or upon return to the office.
Finally, maintaining a culture of wellness and communicating that employees are encouraged to recharge their batteries will encourage individuals to use their holiday entitlement.