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Preventing Burnout: The Importance of Annual Leave

Usually, employees will look forward to taking their annual leave to enjoy a well-deserved break and soak up some sun. However, many employees are now reluctant to take time off whilst travel is still restricted. It’s understandable to want to make the most out of annual leave, and let’s face it, enjoying the great British summertime isn’t (initially) the most appealing way to spend some well-needed time off. Unfortunately, this comes with an increased risk of burnout. As the nation waits for more clarity around travel guidance, as we long for a day when confusing tests and extra charges are no longer a ‘thing’, holidays are getting pushed back. 

The phrase ‘burnout’ has become synonymous with the pandemic. Working from home has undoubtedly disrupted many employee’s work-life balance, leading to increased working hours and fewer breaks. Work-life bleeds into home life, cultivating a growing culture of overworking. These blurred lines are not healthy and need to be addressed within each organisation to avoid this becoming the norm. It’s even been reported that 31% of organisations know that their employees are putting in up to two unpaid hours every single day. Many people won’t admit to how much they are actually overworking, so that statistic alone is mind-blowing. 

Taking annual leave to prevent burnout

Multiple lockdowns have imposed a strain on employees’ wellbeing and overworking only exacerbates this. Yet, many employees are still hesitant to use their annual leave. With many people experiencing increased workloads and concerns around job security, there is a reluctance to take time off.

A strong way to tackle this is ensuring that employees take their full holiday entitlement. Employees must be reminded, even if it needs to be enforced, that rest and recuperation matter. If not, both the employee and the employers will feel the impact. Rested employees result in a more productive work environment, will reduce sick leave, and generally creates a positive workplace. In fact, people suffering from burnout are twice as likely to seek another job and 63% more likely to take sick leave! Ultimately, taking holiday means that people return to work refreshed, rejuvenated, motivated, and happy at work.

How to encourage employees to take annual leave

A culture that supports mental wellbeing and taking time to yourself, no matter the workload, will encourage employees to take time off. Unfortunately, many workplaces will foster an environment whereby taking holiday is mistaken for being lazy or work-shy. It is essential for the wellbeing of employees that this rhetoric is eradicated through consistent communication. 

The planning and the build-up to taking annual leave is part of the excitement. It can also take employees’ minds away from stressing about work, which often occurs even out of working hours. People look forward to their time off but uncertainty around travel, job security, workload, and adequate cover of responsibilities whilst away is putting them off. Employers can encourage team members to plan and take time off through consistent reminders of why taking time away from work is important. Reminding staff members how much leave they have left in meetings and emails are also good ways to ensure they take time off. Regardless of how the business is doing, employees should still be encouraged to take their annual leave. 

If companies fail to adapt and change, the impact will massively impact the employee, other colleagues, and the wider organisation.  Through encouragement and reminders, you can create a hugely positive work environment that will have a ripple effect on the performance of your staff and business. Win win!