Getting the best out of your team is a basic requirement for any business. Too many business leaders though overlook a basic productivity tool – annual leave. Many bosses look at staff holiday as a negative, taking employees away from their jobs. They are wrong.
Paradoxical though it may seem, having your team take holiday will in fact boost their performance. In this article we look at the advantages for your company of encouraging staff to use their leave, the reasons workers choose not to take up their holiday entitlement and how you can encourage them to do so.
Why does time off boost productivity?
There are a few reasons:
- Staff returning from holiday are more rested. Whether the time is spent in long, leisurely lie-ins, trekking up mountains or quality time with the kids, a break in the routines of working, and time spent on their own agenda rather than yours will give your team a rest.
- Time off contributes to the health and safety of your workers, reducing the risks both of stress and of physical fatigue causing accidents or errors.
- “Burned out” staff may also take more sick leave, costing both time and productivity.
- Encouraging your team to take leave establishes a culture for your company that tells employees that they and their needs are respected and cared for. This in turn will inspire them to commit more to their work and reduce staff turnover, and the recruitment costs that high turnover brings.
What’s stopping employees taking their holiday?
If it’s so beneficial, why don’t staff use all their leave?
There can be many reasons, some coming from the employer and others from the team members themselves.
- What you are doing as a company or a manager that might cause this effect?
Does your working culture make employees feel uncomfortable taking leave?
- Do you set a poor example?
Employees who respect their boss may feel uncomfortable taking time off when the boss never rests herself. This can spiral out into the workforce until the whole team is giving up their holiday entitlements.
- Do team members fear that their workload that will build into an unmanageable backlog if they are out of the office?
If this is the case, they are probably overworked to begin with, and if nobody else can cover their planned absence you are left vulnerable when they take unplanned absence such as sick leave or bereavement leave.
- Do your policies discourage holiday?
Any workplace needs certain rules in place about annual leave, you mustn’t have too many people away at once, but how do you manage this? Are certain staff always losing out in a first-come-first-serve system? Do events such as school holidays cause clashes, or make childless team members feel uncomfortable taking time off?
- Is it easy to request annual leave? (knowing that simple and consistent rules govern whether it will be approved)
- Do you have enough staff that team members can take leave without feeling that they are putting too much pressure on their colleagues?
- Are people losing out on accrued annual leave because the holiday year ends without them being aware they have days left to take?
How to manage your employees into taking leave
Managing these issues can be simple, and will let you reap the benefits we discussed earlier. So what steps can you take as a manager to encourage your team to take their annual leave?
- Share information. You already keep records of how much leave people have accrued and taken, and how much they have remaining. Sharing this data with your team members lets them take control of their leave planning. This might seem a daunting task, especially if you are still using spreadsheets to manage leave. Many leave management tools can generate this automatically and even email it to the employee, so you don’t have to.
- Make sure that everyone knows the policies. Display them on notice boards and include them in your staff newsletter if you have one.
- Build a culture where your team feels comfortable taking holiday. Make sure that work is covered so that backlogs don’t build up. Encourage positive attitudes towards taking time off, encouraging the team to share their holiday experiences. Why not include their holiday photos in your company newsletter?
Using the right tools and establishing a positive culture towards holiday can give you a better-rested, highly motivated team, boost your productivity and reduce your costs.
What do you do to encourage a positive holiday culture in your team? Let us know in the comments.