July in the UK means holiday season, the days are longer, the nights are warmer, and the kids are off school, but with 77% of UK workers not using their full annual leave, we do not seem to be making the most of it. Holidays are vital for a happy and productive working body so this week we will be discussing how and why holiday is important for your business.
Pre-Brexit, the UK had taken on a considerable amount of EU legislation. One part of this was the Working Time Directive, which states that employees should be taking a minimum of 20 days off a year. The UK minimum is 28 days, including Bank Holidays, but even if every worker took their full allowance, that is still considerably less than in many European countries. In Denmark, for example, they get 39.5 days a year!
Not taking holiday can have severe health repercussions and it has been demonstrated that people who take fewer than one holiday every two years are considerably more likely to burnout and suffer from depression, so why aren’t we all taking our full allowance? The main reason is guilt. In a time when the economy is unstable and job security threatened, many workplaces are reacting by setting increasingly high standards for their staff. 1 in 10 workers say they feel guilty when they go away, with 51% of staff putting in extra time before they do.
But taking holiday is necessary. Not only is it important for your employees’ mental and physical health to take time off, to recharge and re-energise, it is important for your business too. A break allows workers to come back to work renewed and refreshed. A holiday can significantly help increase motivation, confidence, and productivity, allowing people to be more efficient and cope far better with work-related stress.
And it is not just about the time off itself, it is the entire psychological concept of a holiday as something to look forward to which can alter the way your staff work. A study featured in the journal Applied Research in Quality life has shown that people show the longest signs of increased happiness when they have a holiday to look forward to, a happiness level which stays high for up to 8 weeks after the holiday has finished.
Holidays can also be looked at as learning experiences. On top of increasing the job satisfaction, and reducing the potential absenteeism of your staff, holidays can be invaluable opportunities for workers to broaden their minds. Seeing new places, engaging in new pursuits, meeting new people, all of these can help to create better problem solvers, better networkers, and better creative thinkers.
What you can do to reap the benefits of staff holidays:
Create a positive environment. Make it clear to staff that taking holiday is a legal right, not a cause for guilt, and encourage every employee to use their full allowance. Make your workers feel valued by showing you respect and support their work/life balance.
Highlight Teamwork. Make sure everyone understands that they are expected to work together in teams to cover other people’s work when they are on holiday. This will boost morale and encourage collaboration.
Have a procedure. If you have a system in place so that people ask for holiday well in advance – this will help to schedule things so no work suffers in an employee’s absence, which will be better for your business and will lessen any potential guilty feelings.
Be engaged. When an employee returns from holiday, ask them how it was, what they did etc. Holiday is a vital part of successful working life, and should be treated as such.