Why annual leave is good for business.

Summer is just around the corner and undoubtedly there will be many of your colleagues who have booked time off to enjoy holidays abroad or downtime at home throughout the year. However each year 40% of workers don’t take their full allocation of annual leave and over 30% will work while on holidays. There is an abundance of reasons why employees don’t use their well-earned days off but there are negative consequences to this pattern of behaviour.

For the individual, untaken leave equates to an increased risk of burnout. Time away from work, unplugged from the ecosystem of always on emailing and IM chatter is vital to allow the mind to recuperate. Just like labourers or professional athletes, thinking workers need an “off season” to rest and recharge. When the boundaries are pushed by long stints of time without a break, it results in increased stress, decreased morale, cynicism and disengagement, which translates into organisational level challenges including absenteeism and presenteeism.

Research has found that employees who take breaks in general (lunch breaks, walking breaks etc.) are more engaged and committed to their place of employment, with 81% of respondents having a strong desire to be an active member in their organisation. Holiday breaks yield a similar positive result. In a 2016 study of its own workforce, Ernest & Young  found that for every additional 10 hours of holidays taken by employees, performance metrics went up an average of 8%. 

While taking breaks can yield a more relaxed, creative and productive workforce there are often apprehensive employees who will worry about accumulated workload or the stress of planning a holiday. Organisations can help address these issues by providing services to assist in the holiday planning stages and by ensuring comprehensive policies and practices are in place to manage the holidaying employee’s workload in their absence. It can be beneficial to incentivise full use of annual leave days too.  For example, GE Healthcare give a fifth week of leave in the year following an employee using their full allocation of leave the previous year.  

Author: Sara Glynn, Customer Success & Marketing Manager @Wrkit

Resilience training: reducing stress or masking the problem?

The topic of resilience at work is one which in recent years has received a lot of air time. Alarming figures demonstrate that workplace stress continues to rise, bringing with it a myriad of problems for businesses and individuals. Absenteeism and presenteeism in the workplace are costing the global economy billions of dollars each year, while employees are presented with the long-term health risk associated with stress and burnout.

It is perhaps not surprising that resilience training is becoming increasingly popular as an aspect of employee development. According to Organisational Psychologist Yseult Freeney, the business rational for investing in resilience training is to empower employees to over come work stress, to persevere in the face of adversity and have bounce back ability. Undoubtably there are benefits to resilience training, however conflicting opinions question the authenticity of this “benefit”. One argument posits that companies investing in resilience training are merely masking the underlying issues of work intensification. This being the case, resilience training is not a long-term solution.

Tackling workplace stress needs to start with the root cause: how we work. A major contributing factor to burn-out is the perception that long working days equal productive working days. This mentality fuels the growing issue of presenteeism. Employees feel obliged to be present out of fear they will fall behind, or they might miss out on promotion opportunities if they don’t work late as their colleagues do. Add into the mix working weekends and the late-night emails, and burn-out is inevitable not matter how resilient the person.

Without doubt, companies should continue to offer a mix of wellbeing supports including resilience training, but for those organisations which promote and praise long days, a shift in culture is required. Research demonstrating that even in an 8-hour day, people have just a few productive hours. Furthermore, a recent trial of a 4-day week by a New Zealand company demonstrated that with improved processes employees could perform more efficiently in a shorter week, with decreased stress and increased work-life satisfaction. Hence a change in mentality will result in a more productive and happier workforce.

Getting work-life balance right is an imperative for employer branding. Exploring efficiencies and processes which might alleviate the intensity of work will contribute to reducing employee stress. Email policies too should be reviewed ensuring out of hours communication from managers is limited (if not completely eradicated). Most importantly, key influencers should drive the shift in attitude by demonstrating healthy work-life balance themselves.

Author: Sara Glynn – Marketing & Customer Success Manager @ Wrkit.

Wrkit specialise in the creation of better, healthier working environments. Our platform connects global, remote and local teams through five modules; Surveys, Recognition, POWR, Learning and Savings. Speak to an Engagement Specialist today – info@wrkit.com