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4th Jul, 2024

Jack Ireland
Jack Ireland
Job Title
Content Marketing Executive

When employing staff, annual leave is often seen as a ‘given’ – a perk that is just considered standard practice. You reward your employees with paid time off – that works right?

Unfortunately, an increasing number of employees across the UK are not making the best use of their entitlement. According to research by HR software provider Access PeopleHR, there was a 7.7% fall in the annual leave taken by UK workers between 2022 and 2023 across 18 different industries.

Annual leave is not merely a statutory requirement; it’s a strategic asset that can inspire and motivate employees – positively impacting your organisation.

The benefits to you as an employer

As we all know, you as an employer have a duty of care to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of your employees.

You might view annual leave as a cost to your business, but in reality, encouraging employees to take their full entitlement can bring numerous benefits to your organisation.

Increased productivity

Encouraging employees to take time off can significantly boost productivity. Now this may seem unusual at first, but well-rested employees are more efficient and effective. When employees take regular breaks from work, they return with improved focus and energy.

This break from routine tasks allows them to approach problems with a fresh perspective, often leading to innovative solutions, increased output, and a fresh sense of purpose.

Employees who take a large proportion of their annual leave entitlement are often less likely to experience fatigue and stress that could end up leading to mistakes and errors. In the long term, investing in your employees' rest can lead to a more resilient and productive workforce.

Reduced risk of employee burnout

Burnout is a growing concern – with 82% of employees at risk of some form of burnout in 2024. It can lead to decreased performance, increased absenteeism, and higher turnover rates. Encouraging employees to take annual leave can help to mitigate this risk by providing them with the opportunity to recharge and disconnect from everyday work pressures.

Helping employees embrace their annual leave may help reduce the likelihood of experiencing chronic stress, a leading cause of burnout. By promoting a culture that values rest and recuperation, you can help ensure your employees remain engaged and committed to their roles.

It’s more important than ever that people take time off to rest and recharge – so that they can come back stronger than ever.

Improved mental and physical health

We want employers to prioritise both employee wellbeing and productivity, and taking annual leave can play a vital role in maintaining the mental health of employees. Time away from work can reduce stress, improve mood, and boost overall life satisfaction.

Employees who feel mentally and emotionally healthy are more likely to contribute positively to the workplace upon their return to work. They exhibit better problem-solving skills, can enhance their creative thinking, and are generally more motivated.

Heightened employee satisfaction

Employee satisfaction is closely linked to retention rates and overall company morale. Encouraging employees to take their annual leave demonstrates that you value their work-life balance. This can lead to higher levels of job satisfaction and an increased sense of loyalty.

Those who feel supported in their need for rest and personal time are more likely to speak positively about their workplace, reducing turnover and, in turn, attracting top talent. Satisfied employees are also more engaged and motivated, creating a positive feedback loop that benefits the entire organisation from top to bottom.

Ultimately, it’s the duty of managers to help their teams book time off, whether it’s through regular reminders or implementing a simple and efficient booking system. Companies need to take action and discover why employees may be reluctant to take time off, to put strategies in place to support them. It’s also essential that you have a clear view of any requests that come through from your team so that you can manage them promptly.

Alternatives for those who struggle to take their full entitlement

While it’s ideal for employees to take their full annual leave, it’s not always possible. Some employees just don’t want to take it – and that’s fine.

Here are some alternatives to ensure they still get the rest and recovery they need:

Carry forward holiday leave – allow employees to carry over at least some of their unused leave to the following year. This provides flexibility and ensures they don’t lose their entitlement. This can be particularly useful during busy periods when taking time off is challenging.

Time off in lieu (TOIL) – offer additional time off to compensate employees who work extra hours, which can help to compensate for unused leave and give employees some much needed time off at a later date.

Flexible working hours – allow employees to adjust their work hours to accommodate personal needs. Compressed workweeks or staggered hours can help employees manage their time better, reduce stress, and improve work-life balance, even if they can’t take extended periods of time off.

Frequent breaks in the day – encourage short breaks throughout the day to help employees recharge and maintain their focus. This could be between meetings, after they’ve finished a project, or ticked something off their to do list, making it easier for employees to maintain productivity levels even without taking long holidays.

Final thoughts

In most businesses, communication which encourages employees to take time off is key. Having an easy and simple method to book time off, usually via a time management system that allows someone to submit leave for approval to management and HR, is essential.

This can make all the difference and encourage a healthier attitude towards requesting holiday, especially if the system being used is fast, efficient and accessible to all employees.

If you are looking for a talented professional to join your team, or seeking a career change, get in touch with one of our specialist consultants today.