Updated: Mar 12
We all know that if we work too hard and for too long without a break, our wellbeing and productivity is going to start to diminish and our stress levels are going to rise.
But are you clear on the cost of this to your organisation?
Workers who don’t take breaks are more likely to get sick with the average cost of a sick day believed to be around £618 (Xpert HR)
Presenteeism is when an employee shows up to work and is not 100% well or fully productive. This is believed to cost an organisation 3 times as much as absenteeism (HSE)
Stressed employees correlates to high staff turnover with the average cost of recruitment, induction and up skilling a replacement costing around £30k(Xpert HR)
So there is a clear case for taking holidays which can be a great way for yourself and your workforce to recharge their batteries and come back feeling refreshed with all systems firing. Or is it?
Whilst on one level this is true, the trouble is that 40% of employees return from holidays feeling more stressed out than when they left.
The anticipated increase in workload, before and after the holiday, and uncertain economic times are driving employees to keep one eye on the job. As is technology which means that employees often have remote access whilst they are away, making it harder for them to switch off.
So what can you do to support your employees in getting the most out of their holidays, so that they can switch off and get a well-earned break, whilst you reduce the costs associated with absenteeism, productivity and staff turnover?
1. Give your employee’s permission to take time off
Some employees feel that the workload will suffer and they are letting others down if they take time out. Encourage and give permission to your workforce to take regular leave and consider setting guidelines as to the frequency and a limit to the amount of leave that can be accumulated.
On average it takes employees a couple of days to a week to de-stress, let go and settle into their holidays, so where possible encourage a minimum of two week breaks.
Lead by example and make it part of your culture by taking leave yourself and emphasising the importance of holidays, sharing plans and experiences.
2. Have a plan
One of the challenges of holidays is ensuring adequate cover for those left behind and of course to support your clients.
It’s generally okay to discourage non-essential leave during critical business periods and negotiate the timing of holidays to ensure adequate cover and minimise impacts.
If HR systems are not in place, have a visible calendar that employees can check that there is adequate cover before requesting leave.
Ask for plenty of notice so that there is enough time to prepare sufficiently.
3. Prepare sufficiently
Consider providing your workforce with guidelines on what needs to be done when preparing and returning from leave. For example:
Allocate key tasks to colleagues and provide clear guidelines on how to complete them.
Advise key clients and contacts they will be away and who to work with in their absence.
Set up out of office notifications for phone(s), email and any internal directory systems.
If appropriate consider giving a colleague or team co-ordinator access to their mailbox so they can manage email for them whilst they’re away. Alternatively suggest they set email filters so that non-essential emails are sent to a reading folder, for when they have caught up on the important stuff.
Create a task list of events and activities for when they get back in the office so they can mentally let these go when they are away.
Schedule hand back meetings, with those covering their work, for when they return from leave.
4. Encourage or enforce the switch off
Where possible ask that employees leave their portable devices in the office.
Consider either stopping or limiting employee access during leave. Where appropriate switch off emails and sms notifications being sent to portable devices and consider diverting calls.
If they must stay in contact try and limit this to a set time or period of time. Or to phone calls for urgent matters only.
And finally don’t forget to wish them a fabulous holiday and enquire as to how it went on their return.
Annual leave is just one way to reduce absenteeism and staff turnover,
increase productivity and support employee wellness.
Please get in touch if you would like to find out how to support your employees further whilst enhancing your business results.