Why holidays are good for employees’ health

13 August 2018

Do you ever sense that some of your team might be hesitating to take their annual leave? If so, they’re not alone. One survey found that more than half of us in Britain don’t take all of our holiday entitlement at work.1

The problem is that these employees may be working harder than is good for them – and for business. Wise employers know that not only is time off important for people’s health and wellbeing, but also that workers who take holidays are more productive and perform better while at work.2

The health benefits of holidays – an employer’s perspective

1. Protecting mental health
Everyone needs time to rest, relax and recharge their batteries. However much your direct reports might enjoy their jobs, it’s good for them to get away and have a change of scenery from time to time. Having a good work-life balance will help them to avoid work-related stress and burnout. And for all of us, spending time away from work with the people we love is very important for good mental health.

2. Health and safety
Giving workers paid annual leave is not really a perk – it’s a wellbeing, health and safety measure. It’s there to make sure that people have a reasonable amount of time to rest and relax during the working year. Almost all employees are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid annual leave each year (which may include bank holidays).3

Why don’t employees take leave?

There are lots of reasons why employees may find it hard to take leave. They may feel guilty giving extra work to their workmates, or worry that their work won’t be covered while they’re away. They might feel that having a pile of work to come back to isn’t worth the time away.

In difficult economic times such as these, employees may feel that they need to show extra commitment by being at work all the time. Or perhaps they fear that taking time off might affect a promotion or their career prospects.

Tips for helping employees take their leave entitlement

  • Make it clear that your direct reports shouldn’t feel bad about taking leave, and that as a manager you encourage it.
  • Make life easier for your direct reports to get away by offering to reassign work while they are on holiday. This will help ensure they don’t have to worry about coming back to an increased workload.
  • Stress that they shouldn’t check their work emails or bring a work phone with them on holiday. Time off means time off – otherwise their chances of relaxing and recharging their batteries will be pretty slim.

Above anything else, remember (and remind your team) that annual leave is not an optional extra. Everyone’s legally entitled to take it, and it’s important for their health and wellbeing that they do.

1. ACAS. Half of UK employees don't take all their annual leave., accessed July 2018
2. Mind. How to promote wellbeing and tackle the causes of work-related mental health problems., accessed July 2018
3. Holiday entitlement., accessed July 2018

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