Let's face it: For many employees, like us, taking time off to just spend time at home doesn't seem very appealing. In the last year or so, we've gone from working from home to living at work and finally, imagining the weekend as just one long lunch break. It might be post-recession guilt culture or thinking 'you're too busy,' but if it's using it or losing it with annual leave - then you might as well use it.
Here are four reasons why encouraging your employees (and yourself!) to take regular annual leave is the right business decision.
Avoid Burnout, and Increase Productivity
Energy is contagious, you either affect people or infect them.
If research suggests taking a walk or doing a short activity away from your desk will refresh your workday, imagine how much a full holiday could improve your productivity. Your sleep quality is affected, your temperament changes and even the effectiveness of your work decreases regardless of the time you put in. Ultimately, if you don't give yourself some time to break away from the physical and mental demands of everyday life, you're not working smart.
Team performance isn't just based on metrics like intelligence, skill, or experience, but is highly malleable to the smaller behaviours that make up our culture. This means that it only takes one negative mindset from a (burnt-out) employee to change a whole culture.
Where Great Innovation Comes From
Taking a break helps you to see the wood for the trees. When you're away from your to-do lists and office Slack channel, you'll have a chance to recentre on your goals and think about things from a fresh perspective.
Breaks include social breaks - being exposed to new and different experiences or people will boost your creativity. Social interactions enable people to share their experiences and feel part of a group. This feeling of relatedness during a social break shows a positive association with feeling recovered after the break.
Great innovation comes when your mind has time to daydream and re-conceptualise problems to even the most daring and novel of solutions.
Employees Learn By Example
Employees who believe that they must work 24/7 to achieve good standing in the workplace often develop this idea through their employers' attitudes. A common pitfall, especially in Asia, is believing that the amount of time spent in the office or working 'overtime' determines how hardworking you are.
The truth is that regular breaks create better employees, and if every one of your employees is representing your brand, you want brand ambassadors that are visibly happier at work. Businesses where employers commit to employee wellbeing and mental health are much more likely to have higher staff retention rates and positive internal reviews. Recent surveys reveal that employees who take a lunch break daily feel more valued by their employer, as well as have a stronger desire to be an active member of their company.
The Bottom Line: A Lot of Saved Money
Did you know that it costs about 33% of a recruit's salary to replace an existing employee who left their job? In other words, it could cost up to $11,000 in direct training expenses and lost productivity to replace an experienced employee earning an annual salary of $33,000 (Source).
In Singapore specifically, employees are 32% more likely to be made to 'feel uncomfortable' by their employers, with almost half citing that they are affected by 'stress and anxiety' at work. The fact that findings from Singaporean employees are drastically different from the global average when it comes to 'happiness at work' is telling to the lack of emphasis on facilitating a happy and long-standing team of employees rather than the short-lived tenures typical of agency culture.
The recipe for happy clients and a profitable business comes down to the results and mindset of your employees. Meaning, the more times employees spend time away from the office and are encouraged to do so, the more profitable your business will likely be.
A bonus? Well-rested employees are less likely to take sick leave and you won't have to worry about unplanned absences.
5 Tips For Employees to 'Get Away' During Their Annual Leave
So maybe a two-week getaway to Bali isn't possible right now, but there is still a multitude of ways you can reap the benefits of a grand vacation and take a break....you just have to be creative.
Give the relevant team members and stakeholders plenty of notice before you take time off. An air-tight handover will give you the peace of mind to fully embrace your holiday, not fret to get another cocktail on the sandy beaches of Sentosa, and switch off your email notifications. If you delegate beforehand, you know you won't return to chaos.
Book your annual leave in advance for yourself as well! Seeing the blocked-out dates on your calendar will motivate you to work effectively and efficiently till that point.
Try coordinating your leave with your friends and family and plan activities around it (say, a cruise to nowhere, or a staycation) so you have to commit to the break and will be less likely to back out
Pack away the home office set-up at the end of the week and during the holiday. Reclaim your home as your home when you're not working.
Perhaps work is really too busy or you don't think you can leave the office for more than a week, still take a few days off or give yourself the gift of a long weekend. Little but often, is better than not at all.