Why You Should Encourage Employees to Holiday

February 21, 2018

Taking time off benefits long-term productivity

Many managers wince when they see a holiday request come in for approval. It can be difficult to spare one of your team’s top performers even for a few days or a week. Holidays can sometimes disrupt momentum in a project and often add a little stress for other team members as they cover the leftover workload. Yet research shows that taking time off is extremely important to employee wellbeing, and by extension, organisational success.

Holidays are important to employees, but they don’t use time off

According to Project Time Off, employees rank holiday as their second-most important benefit behind health care—beating out retirement plans and even bonuses. In terms of recruiting, 74% of those looking for a new job say paid holiday leave is either a ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ important element in their job search.

Holidays improve employee wellbeing

When surveyed by Project Time Off, managers overwhelmingly believe that going on holiday:

  • Improves employee health and wellbeing (82%)
  • Boosts morale (82%)
  • Alleviates burnout (81%)

In addition, according to SHRM, 88%-94% of human resources professionals think that holidays are extremely important for employees for a variety of reasons, including morale, wellness, performance, retention, company culture, and employee productivity. Holidays even inspire better employee creativity, according to 70% of HR professionals surveyed.

Why don’t employees use their time off?

It isn’t a mystery why employees leave unused holiday time on the table. According to Forbes, citing Project Time Off, two-third of surveyed employees believed the culture at their company was either ambivalent or outright discouraging of taking time off. Employees also reported concerns about the amount of accumulated work they would return to after a holiday (43%) and that no one else could do the work in their absence (34%).

In short, employees worry too much about work to leave work. That may be why they also can’t truly unplug from work when they do go on holiday. A recent survey revealed that 73% of employees are still checking in with work from holiday.

Five ways to promote employee holidays

If you want to improve employee wellbeing by encouraging workers to use their holiday leave, consider these tips:

  1. Know your PTO statistics. Human resources should monitor the levels of unused holiday, both at the employee level and at the higher organisational level. Track this metric over time. If you start to see the company forfeiting more holiday time, consult with leaders and employees to determine what is going on.
  2. Lead by example. It is not just low-level workers who fail to use their holiday. Surveys show executives aren’t taking time away from the office either. To begin changing the culture surrounding time off, leadership must show (not just tell) employees it is a good idea to go on holiday.
  3. Encourage employees to plan ahead. When employees plan holidays in advance, it’s easier for managers to balance and redistribute the workload so they don’t return to a mountain of unfinished work. And research from the Time Off Project shows employees who plan holidays in advance are more likely to take a full week off instead of grabbing a day or two here and there.
  4. Create a culture that supports unplugging. With modern technology and connectivity, it is tempting for managers to ask employees to cheque in and/or work from holiday. That might be ok in a true emergency, but science shows how important it is to unplug from technology in order to truly rest and rejuvenate.
  5. Consider a policy that requires all employees to take a full week-long holiday each year. When employees only take one or two days off at a time, they don’t fully unwind and relax.

Holidays are good for your people, so they are also good for your organisation. By developing a corporate culture and holiday policy that encourage employees to take time outside of the office, you will enhance employee wellbeing and productivity. To find new ways to improve employee productivity inside the office, turn to Asure Software’s Workspace Management solutions.