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4 Reasons Why You Should Be Encouraging Your Staff to Use Their Holiday Allowance

For most managers, the idea of staff holidays are tiresome; they prompt feelings of exasperation and frustration. While it is true that organising holidays is not always easy - in fact, it can be incredibly stressful - you also need to understand the importance of holidays for your employees. They are integral to encouraging employee satisfaction, improving performance, and boosting productivity. Read on to learn more about the benefits of encouraging staff to use all their holiday.

Holiday Allowance – The Legal Requirements

In the UK, any employee who works full time – meaning 37.5 hours a week – is legally entitled to 28 days of paid leave every year. Staff who work part-time have a different allowance depending on the number of hours that they work. Monitoring the holiday allowance of your staff is important to ensure that the business is legally compliant. Depending on the industry, this may or may not include bank holidays. The truth is that a lot of employees end up not using their full allowance. Some employees take as little as half of their allowance in a given year.

Why Don't Staff Use All of Their Holiday Allowance?

Most of the time, when an employee doesn't use all of their holiday entitlement, it will come down to one of the following:

• Anxiety surrounding their workload. They have too much to do, and they are concerned that they will fall behind if they take the time off.

• Internal pressure within the workplace. The comments that managers and staff make can stick in the minds of employees. Comments about the disruption that holidays cause can make staff feel like they can't take their holidays without being an inconvenience.

• The culture within the business either directly or indirectly encourages staff not to use their holiday. The employees that don't take holidays may be perceived as more committed and dedicated, leading to favourable attitudes towards them.

• They want to roll their holidays over. Some companies allow unused holiday days to roll over into the new year, and sometimes employees like to save them up to use for an extended amount of time off in the new year.

Why You Should Encourage Your Staff to Use Their Annual Leave

While it is true that staff taking holidays can be disruptive, it is within your best interests to encourage them to use their holiday days. Staff taking holidays can actually be incredibly beneficial to employers in the long run.

Firstly, it helps to reduce stress within the workforce, staving off burnout and improving productivity. The staff need a chance to rest; a stressed-out workforce isn't as effective or productive as one that is well-rested. Everyone needs a break every once in a while, even those who, by all accounts, are happy in their role and enjoying their jobs. A change of scenery allows staff to recharge their batteries. It also encourages a better work-life balance, which improves productivity and job satisfaction.

Some managers still view paid leave as a perk, and it is to a certain extent, but it is also a health and safety measure. Overworked staff are more likely to make mistakes and, depending on the industry, these mistakes can be dangerous to either the reputation of the company or to the health and safety of the staff. Taking leave throughout the year allows staff to recuperate. As well as helping to minimise workplace accidents, it can also reduce absences. A stressed-out and overworked team are far more likely to experience both mental and physical health issues which require them to call in sick.

If your company has a culture that praises people for not taking leave or encourages people to work themselves too hard, then you could actually lose staff. This culture may have developed unconsciously, but that does not lessen its effect. Paid leave is important to workers, and if they work for a company that either actively or inactively frowns upon it, then they are far more likely to leave and look for a job with a better culture around paid leave.

Finally, depending on your company policy surrounding leave, if your staff don't take their holidays throughout the year, you might find that they end up with too much to take toward the end of the year. This means that you have to juggle multiple holiday requests for staff who all want to be off simultaneously, leaving you short-staffed. Some companies choose to pay in lieu of holidays; some allow staff to roll over their holidays to the following year, and some simply implement a 'use them or lose them' policy.

What Can the Company Do?

A business can do a few things to ensure that their staff are using their full holiday entitlement. You first need to ensure that the holiday policy is clearly communicated to all staff and have a relatively easy booking process. Your employees need to be able to track their allowance and how much time they have left versus how much they have used. This is where your people management strategies come in. Software Companies in the UK like myhrtoolkit provide valuable resources and services which can prove invaluable to managers. They have the means to provide you with a system in place that allows you to track absences and manage holidays.

Reminding your staff to book holidays seems like it could take a lot of effort, but it doesn't have to. You don't have to remind them individually; instead, you should get into the habit to include a reminder in the company newsletter or pin a reminder to the notice board in the staff room. You could also make a point to mention it during your company meetings. This can also go a long way in encouraging a positive company culture when it comes to holidays because staff feel as though they are being encouraged to use them. As part of your effort to encourage a better company culture around holidays, you could also encourage your employees to talk about their time off and share anecdotes or recommendations.

As a manager, you should also be striving to communicate the importance of taking time off from work. Make it a priority to discuss the significance of having a healthier work-life balance. Tasks can be handed over to other employees to complete in their absence. Talk about the benefits of taking holidays and the effect that they can have on your employees’ mental and physical health. Show that your employee's health and happiness is a priority for you. As a result, your employees feel cared for, which can lower your staff turnover too.

The Bottom Line

As a manager or a business owner, you need to reframe your perspective on annual leave. It is not simply a perk or something used to entice talent. It can actually benefit the business as a whole. When you ensure that your employees are taking their entitlement, the whole workplace benefits. It becomes a more productive environment where absences are minimised, and staff are more likely to stay. Use the tips listed above to ensure that your staff are taking advantage of their holidays and that your company culture not only allows but supports this too.

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