Last year, a company in Sweden introduced reduced working hours for its staff. Its working day went from eight to six hours as part of an experiment to improve productivity. It wasn’t long before a British business followed suit, although later reverting back to the longer days but with more flexibility.
The past few years have seen a shift in the way we work, as companies attempt to redress the balance between work and home life. Initiatives such as flexible working hours, working from home, hot desking and more have become commonplace.
Despite this, recent reports suggest that around two-thirds of us fail to take our full allocation of annual leave.
Why do we fail to take our holidays?
British law suggests each employee has the right to 28 holiday days each year. This equates to a mere two days per month if split equally (though holiday days often include bank holidays), yet still we fail to use all of these days.
It’s easy to see why this might be. As ambitious business people, we strive to do as much as possible. There’s almost an unwritten myth that working more hours means we’re more productive.
But hours worked do not equal work produced. In fact, taking time off can actually improve our productivity and help us do better work.
Annual leave should be an important part of any business’ year. Employees can expect the following benefits as a result of taking their holiday:
Taking time out of the office gives our bodies and minds the chance to rejuvenate. We come back feeling fresher and healthier because we’ve removed the burden of responsibility we can often feel with work. By relaxing our lifestyle even for a short period, we can spend the time focusing on relaxing and enjoying the other areas of our lives that are important to us.
This also reduces our stress levels. Even if things are going well at work, we likely have to-do lists or deadlines which keep our adrenaline levels up - which is also a good thing! Spending some time without those to-dos or deadlines, however, reduces our stress levels.
Encouraging your employees to use their annual leave can also reduce the number of sick days taken each year, which has a tangible impact on your bottom line.
There’s always a danger if we work too much that we’ll ‘burn out’. Working for longer durations is simply not sustainable if we want to remain alert and enthused.
Taking annual leave, and therefore delegating work to our colleagues, shows that we trust them to manage it for us. Particularly if you’re in a more senior position, your holiday gives people the autonomy to develop themselves, too.
Holidays in the UK
Getting ‘away’ needn’t mean expensive or time intensive trips abroad. More and more business people are choosing the holiday right here in the UK, where the cost and time requirements are usually lower.
By staying here in the UK, you can take shorter breaks and more of them - long weekends, for example, are great to get that feeling of escape, without having to commit to being unavailable for a longer period of time.
The New Forest is one UK destination which has really taken off in recent years, as reported recently by the Financial Times. Just 1.5 hours from London, the area is a million miles from the hustle and bustle of daily life. You can find a stunning range of luxurious, unique New Forest cottages for your stay via independent provider New Forest Living.
Areas like the Lake District and Peak District continue to be popular UK destinations too. Scotland and Ireland too are great places to go if you have a long weekend.
The trend for ‘staycations’ has grown in the past couple of years too, where people choose to stay at home for their annual leave and explore their local area as a tourist would.
Time for a break?
As businesses continue to move to more flexible working arrangements, we’re still neglecting our annual leave entitlement.
With so many benefits of taking our holidays, and locations to visit right on our doorstep, can we really afford not to?
By Laura Hampton, digital marketing manager, Impression