As Summer approaches, your employees may be scrambling to block out chunks of the calendar, get their leave requests signed off on and ensure that the office or worksite is amply covered. The allure of a holiday in the sun or at a cabin by a lake is something that many of your staff members are sure to be dreaming about all year long – or are they?
A 2013 study from recruitment firm Adecco showed that a full third of UK employees are not taking their entire holiday entitlement each year. While some are certainly hoping to roll some of these unused days over to the next financial year in order to get married or go on an extended break, some simply do not wish to take their holiday allowance.
Guilt and worry about asking for time away
Despite the fact that a holiday allowance is their right, this study found that over twenty five percent of those asked did not want to use their holiday time because they “felt guilty.” Some felt like they would anger or disappoint their boss, and more than half said that they were worried about leaving their colleagues understaffed.
More than 30% of those surveyed claimed that they regularly experienced stress when their colleagues took their own holidays, and nearly 20% said that they regularly lied to their boss about what they planned to do during their leave (i.e. they would make up a more professional sounding excuse, rather than detailing travel plans).
The Dangers of Your Employees Not Taking Their Leave
Stress, shame, fear – all of these negative emotions are hard on your employees health. Not only will a well-deserved vacation help them unwind and relax, the very knowledge that they work at a firm that prioritises their health is good for their wellbeing.
Overworked, stressed or fearful employees are more likely to get sick, to make preventable errors and to cause accidents. Knowing they can take their holiday entitlement without causing the workplace to crumble and then taking some time off – this will go a long way in mitigating their stress.
As a business owner or manager, what should you do?
Who is to blame when an employee does not want to take their leave, or worse – if they feel ashamed or stressed out about doing something they are legally entitled to? The answer might be you.
After all, as a business owner or manager, your responsibility is to ensure that your office or worksite is scheduled well and employs enough people so that when an individual rightly takes their holiday no one else unduly suffers.
You priorities should include:
- Ensuring you are well staffed and have enough employees to cover others’ holidays
- Acting in an approachable manner when it comes to holiday requests
- Taking your own holiday allotment to set a good example
- Encouraging recalcitrant employees to take their leave, and even mandating it (in extreme cases)