In Australia, nearly two-thirds of employees don’t take their full annual leave entitlements. I couldn’t find data for sole traders, but based on informal research (AKA me and all the small business people I know), I suspect this figure might be even higher amongst the self-employed.
Words like ‘dedicated’ and ‘selfless’ are attributed to those of us who slog away late and often, staying back at work until midnight, working on weekends, never taking holidays. This kind of self-flagellation is valued and revered in our collective culture. And it’s especially true in caring professions. But is it really helping us to produce our best, most inspired work?
Nope. It isn’t.
It might be time to question our blind belief in the motto ‘all work and no play’.
When you put it under the microscope, NOT taking your annual leave reduces work performance and productivity. It also results in reduced innovation.
There is evidence to show that organisations that do not overwork their employees and offer more sociable hours and better than average leave periods tend to be more productive and successful. Taking holiday leave also has a positive correlation to personal relationships. Individuals who take their leave report better relationships with partners and children, larger social circles and feeling happier and less stressed than their colleagues who don’t take their full leave allowance.
The negatives of overwork are significant to our physical and mental health. Those working 50+ hours a week have increased risk of heart attack, alcoholism and obesity. Overworking also increases the likelihood of experiencing depression and anxiety.
If you feel like you can’t take time off, one of the best things to do is plan ahead. Book it in, slap down a deposit (then you are committed and if you pull out, it will cost you money) and rope in a loved one. The benefits of taking annual leave are at their greatest when the time off involves a significant change to your day-to-day routine and social connections.
If you are a manager, encourage your team to plan and take leave. You also need to practice what you preach and shut out the work world for a little while. What you do as a manager helps to set the tone of workplace culture.
So what are you waiting for? Now is the perfect time to plan your next holiday and reap the benefits of taking some time to relax and reset.
Download the 5 Benefits of Taking Holiday Leave List