August 20, 2013
Leave it out. UK workers are skipping their break from the office
The problem with the UK holiday season is that you never know where you are with your contacts. While one chunk of the population is away on leave, the other half is beavering away, and carry on sending out tons of emails, which the other half are forced to plough through when they return to the office. Maybe we need to follow the example of the Italian office furniture manufacturer which emails out an annual reminder during the last week of July that its offices will be shut for the whole of August, when traditionally, most of Italy takes a break. Not so the Brits, where, according to new research, even workers entitled to a break, are reluctant to take time off.
According to the study from recruitment company Adecco, a third of UK office workers are failing to take the holiday leave to which they are entitled, with a further 15 per cent of people only taking their full holiday entitlement because they are forced to by their employer.
The research also found:
- Over a quarter (27 per cent) of people have felt guilty about requesting holiday. Of this, half (50 per cent) felt guilty because they felt they were leaving their colleagues in the lurch.
- A fifth (22 per cent) of people have lied to their employer about what they are taking holiday for;
- A third (33 per cent) of people experience added stress as a result of their colleagues taking holiday;
- Half (48 per cent) of workers would cancel holiday for work commitments.
However, employers could be opening themselves up to problems by allowing this kind of presenteeism to continue, as UK statutory holiday entitlement (5.6 weeks) must be given to workers. There’s also the real likelihood that stressed staff will be less productive and more likely to end up being absent on sick leave, rather than holiday leave.
As Alex Fleming, Operations Director at Adecco warns: “UK workers seem to have adopted a range of bad habits associated with their holiday leave. It is important to remember that annual leave is a legal entitlement and people should be encouraged to use it. It seems employees are reluctant to take their holiday leave and this could be for a range of reasons, including fears over job security and leaving their colleagues with increased stress.”
This new study follows data published by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) earlier in the summer which found that more than half of managers felt compelled to work while on holiday and a massive 80 per cent of managers checked their smartphone regularly while on holiday. ILM offers some useful tips for cutting down holiday stress levels which you can read here.