Everyone deserves time-off when they work hard. This is why most UK employees are entitled to 5-6 weeks of annual leave a year. This time-off is in the hands of employees. When they’re designated a finite amount of holiday there’s a good chance that they’ll aim to use them conservatively.
Everyone wants to use their time-off in different ways. Perhaps they’re planning to use them all at once for a big getaway. They can break up certain months with strategically placed long weekends.
Regardless of how they’re used, many employees don’t use their full annual leave allowance each year. This can cause an issue as time-off needs to be shoehorned into the last few months, or paid out in additional wages, depending on your company’s policies.
Juggling an entire team of employees’ time off can be a nightmare. Especially if you’re approaching the end of the year and there’s still plenty of holidays to fit in.
This is why it’s important to encourage employees to take time off. But how can you do this?
Clarify that their Holiday days are there for their good
Some employees may see it as a waste to take time off without having anything planned. Yet it’s important to clarify that it’s these times that holiday days are meant for.
This is especially true in such troubling times as the COVID pandemic. Many will traditionally associate annual leave with holidays abroad, and thus save them up to jet around the world. However, 2020 proved to everyone that, sadly, this is sometimes just not possible.
Without the opportunity to take extended breaks throughout the years, the prospect of taking the odd three day weekend shouldn’t be too hard a sell. After all, if the 9 to 5, the five-day working week is becoming too stressful or tedious, using holiday days for some time away from the office can be exactly what the doctor ordered.
This can give your employees much-needed time to recharge. Helping them get back to work with a renewed sense of vigor helps productivity remain positive.
Establish that’s it’s okay to take a break from a home office
Even those remotely working or working from home should be encouraged to take time off. It may seem counterintuitive to take a break from your own home office. However, studies have shown that it is essential to create a separation between home-life and work-life.
Not having that separation can make it difficult to stop thinking about work. At the end of the day and can increase the chances of a person experiencing exhaustion and burnout.
Encourage your employees to spend the day completing house chores or watching TV, it’s important to get a break.
Be open with employees to avoid disappointment
Your company will need to remain active throughout the year, so avoiding mass requests for simultaneous time-off is key to keeping a business running. Whether it’s the summer holidays or Christmas, employees are likely to take holidays at popular times of the year.
If everyone aims to do this, it’s much more likely that no one will be able to do so.
Communication between employees and management, including team members talking among themselves, help to establish people’s expectations for when holiday days will be used. For example, if two people on the same team are discussing taking their families abroad for half-term, they will do themselves a favor by talking to their manager about when they can split these holiday days.
One way to avoid this issue is by enforcing rules on when a holiday can be requested. For example, ensure that you have an annual leave policy that explains how time off is fairly allocated at busier times of the year.
This avoids disappointment and dismay in the future. Discussing holiday plans early means that you can plan out your team’s workflow throughout the months.
Make your policies and expectations clear
At the end of the day, working together with an employee can establish what’s best for them and the company. Sitting down and discussing potential uses of time-off with an employee who is ‘stockpiling’ them can help remove roadblocks.
One common reason people don’t take holidays is that they don’t feel like they have the time to stop working.
As a manager, you have a duty of care to your staff, and their mental health is included in that. By spending some time with an employee and simply talking through a good solution for all parties involved, the issue of unused holiday time can be resolved.
This can be done either pre-emptively by sharing easy-to-read information about company policies with time-off, such as clarifying whether you will pay employees for any unused holidays or whether unused holidays vanish by the end of the year. This information may help an employee decide as to what to do with their unused holiday time.
Alternatively, just approach them one-to-one, employee-to-employee, and talk about what they’d want to use the time off for. Who knows, you may begin discussing the employee’s desire to have the odd lie-in on a Monday morning, which can result in taking several Mondays off.
Letting your employees know that you’re there to discuss their use of holiday days can be incredibly helpful. Whether they’re unsure if taking the odd day off would be ‘justifiable’ to management or they’ve got plans for taking several weeks off at a time, keeping your door open for employees to voice their feelings about holiday time-off will surely encourage them to use them.
This article was provided by Alan Price, CEO of BrightHR
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