· Eve Church  · 5 min read

Why You Need to Encourage Employees to Use Their Annual Leave

Vacation is not a perk and shouldn’t be regarded as such. Instead your employees need to be actively encouraged to use up their paid time off.

The days of businesses working their people to the bone and discouraging annual leave are a thing of the past. Or at least they should be in any modern business. Vacation is not a perk and shouldn’t be regarded as such. Instead your employees need to be actively encouraged to use up their paid time off.

Not convinced? (Or have a C-Suite or managers who aren’t convinced?!) Here’s why you need to make sure that everyone in your organization takes the time off that is allocated to them.

Why you need to encourage your employees to use their annual leave

As the year draws to a close and people start accumulating vacation days, sure, you can allow them to carry some time off over to the following year.

But adopting a proactive attitude towards your employees taking off everything they’re able to is a key factor in creating a healthy company culture that will make people want to stick around.

However, the BBC found that many employees in the United States are not taking what’s rightfully theirs. Just look at the stats:

“According to one 2017 survey, the average US worker said they had taken just about half (54%) of their paid time off in the past 12 months. Things appear to be getting worse, not better; in 2018, one report showed, American workers failed to use 768 million days of paid time off – a 9% increase from 2017.”

Just think what you could do with 768 million days of paid vacation!

So if people are squandering time they could be relaxing, traveling, making home improvements, hanging out with friends, family and other loved ones, and just getting a greater work-life balance, maybe it’s time employers stepped in.

Read more: How to Help Your Employees Achieve a Better Work-Life Balance

So how do you do that exactly? Or, more to the point, if you’re working in Human Resources, how do you convince your company’s owners and leaders that this is the way forward?

There’s actually a decent amount of research out there that demonstrates that enforcing a workaholic culture does not parlay into a more productive business - or one that is populated with happier and more efficient staff.

In fact, this model will instead be far more likely to result in burnout and absences.

What are the benefits to a business when its people take time off?

A day here and there is all well and good. Duvet days exist for a reason after all. But taking a decent amount of time off that actually enables an employee to switch off has multiple benefits.

As a side note, can we also express how important it is to ensure your employees are switching off when they’re on vacation. Otherwise all of this advice is a moot point!

Let’s look at the facts.

Taking time off improves productivity

Allowing employees to take a respectable amount of vacation will result in greater overall productivity than forcing them to work twelve months straight with just a day off here and there.

Having a proper vacation allows people to relax, rest, recuperate and then return to the office more motivated, focused and with greater energy.

Read more: How Your HR Team Can Offer More Support to Your People

Taking time off reduces absence

It might sound counter-intuitive, but letting people take a decent amount of time off will actually reduce absence. There are any number of reasons why your people aren’t showing up for work, ranging from not feeling respected or valued, to being burnt out.

There is a direct correlation between people taking more planned time off and a reduction in the amount of unplanned time off they take, whether that’s sick days or unauthorized absence.

Taking time off boosts focus

For a business to thrive, it needs its people to be focused and creative. Whether it’s a marketing campaign, a new product, or a fresh way of tackling a particularly sticky challenge, having time off to recharge the batteries allows employees to come back to work with a fresh pair of eyes and greater insight.

After all, precious little will be achieved when your teams are exhausted, uninspired and simply going through the motions.

Read more: 6 Ways to Show Your Employees a Little Love

And that goes for everyone from the CEO to the newest employee at the very start of their career. Stepping back from any kind of issue and letting an idea develop and percolate in an uncluttered mind is normally the best way of finding a solution or coming up with a new idea.

And finally…

Encouraging time off creates a better company culture

And that in turn attracts higher caliber candidates. Candidates today don’t just look at salary, they look at all of your other perks, benefits and policies too.

When you’re hiring, having a decent vacation policy will most definitely push you head and shoulders above your competitors if their annual leave doesn’t stack up.

Read more: How to Build a Company Culture That Motivates Employees

New hires want to know that they’re applying to a company that values and respects them and if you can prove that via your annual leave policy, you’re on to a good thing.

Why you need to encourage employees to use their annual leave: conclusion

If your organization takes the wellbeing of your employees seriously - which you should, and which also includes your approach to vacation days - you’re not only going to attract better applicants to your vacancies, but you’re going to retain the employees you already do have.

And those employees are going to be bringing the best, most inspired versions of themselves to work - as opposed to the burnt out and unappreciated version!

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