Are your employees taking their annual leave?

The UK holiday season is in full swing, but whilst many of us are currently basking in sunnier climes, an almost equal number appear to be reluctant to take any annual leave at all.

New research shows that many UK employees are failing to use their full holiday entitlement, with a survey by Glassdoor showing that as many as two in five (40%) UK employees took a maximum of just half their holiday allowance during the last holiday period.

The average figure of entitlement took by employees stood at 62%, whilst, astonishingly, 13% of those surveyed reported that they took just 13% of their total allowance. The online survey, which was carried out in April 2018, gathered responses from 2,00 full and part-time employees, and also touched on the amount of work employees reported to have done whilst on annual leave.

23% stated that they regularly checked work emails whilst on holiday, and 15% continued to work on actual assignments through a fear of missing targets or getting behind whilst they were away. Younger workers were also the least likely of any group represented to take their full holiday entitlement, with only 35% of 18-24 reporting that they did so.

High levels of stress and anxiety around the taking of annual leave will undoubtedly have a detrimental affect on productivity levels, and ultimately will impact a business’s bottom line. But, in the wake of such controversial figures, is there anything that employers could do to help to encourage their staff to take annual leave, and to relax and recharge whilst away?

We’ve put together our top five tips to help you to persuade your employees to relax, re-calibrate and refocus:

  • Practice what you preach 

The tone of the office, including attitudes to workplace policies, is set by managers and leaders. If your employees see that you are afraid to take holiday yourself, it is inevitable that this attitude will spread to them. Look at your own history of annual leave, and schedule in any unused days that you may have remaining. You could also ensure that you pitch in and help other employees during busy holiday periods – if people see that senior staff members are willing to help with role covering during holiday’s, it will help to reinforce the message that taking annual leave is a positive process.

  • Ensure that your policy is clear

Make sure that all employees have read your company handbook, which should also include the details of your holiday policy. Any right to time off, and the number of days awarded, will depend on the employee’s contract of employment.

It is important that your employees understand when the holiday period starts and finishes, how many days in a row they can take as leave, and how holiday they have remaining. This should help to reduce any anxieties that they may have around the process as a whole.

  • Implement ‘rollover’ limits 

You may already have a rollover limit, which clearly sets out the maximum number of annual leave days that an employee can ‘carry over’ to the following holiday year. However, it may be worth reviewing this, and even reducing the number of carry over days allowed, so as to encourage employees to use it up during the present year. If they know that they can only ‘bank’ a minimal amount of holiday, it should help to avoiding a holiday hoarding situation.

  • Encourage positive ‘holiday chat’ 

As a senior figure, employees will look to you for guidance, and encouraging positive holiday chat will help relax any perceived formality around the process. Share any positive or funny stories of your recent holidays or trips away, and encourage managers to foster the same approach within their own individual departments and teams.

  • Make holiday booking quick and easy 

How do your employees currently have to request and book holiday? If you are still using paper forms, or email requests that are logged on manual spreadsheets to authorise and record holiday entitlement, then you may be missing a trick! If you already have HR software, make sure that you are fully utilising it to quickly automate this process. If not, alongside its mnay other benefits, HR software can make annual leave booking, tracking and management a quick and easy process for employers and employees alike.

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