Staff holidays: what are the mental health benefits?

Published on October 5, 2021 by Camille Brouard
What are the mental health benefits for staff taking holidays

We all know that taking a holiday is good for us, but are your staff taking all their statutory holiday entitlement – and what are the risks if they aren’t? Let’s delve into the mental health benefits of staff taking holidays and some ways you can make sure your employees are taking the time off they need.

Why do we need holidays?

According to BUPA, taking annual leave is essential for relieving work-related stress and the risk of staff feeling burnt out. Taking holidays is part of a healthy work-life balance, as employees can fully switch off from their work and take a proper break away from daily stresses.

What happens when staff aren’t taking their holidays?

If your staff aren’t taking all the holiday and breaks that they are entitled to, this isn’t great news for their mental or physical health.

In the Forbes article titled Why Taking Vacation Time Could Save Your Life, Caroline Castrillon observes how the cuts U.S. employees have taken to their vacation time during the pandemic may have long-term adverse health effects.

She quotes a World Health Organisation (WHO) study, which found that 745,000 people died in 2016 from heart disease and stroke due to long work hours, with working 55 hours or more a week associated with a 35% higher risk of stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from heart disease than a workweek of 35 to 40 hours.

5 strategies to make sure staff are taking holidays

5 strategies to make sure staff are taking holidays

So, how can you make sure your employees are taking their annual leave and reaping the mental health (and indeed physical health) benefits? Here are 5 strategies your company could adopt:

1. Encourage them to take their full annual leave

There are many ways to encourage staff to take their annual leave, from regularly disseminating your holiday policies to practicing what you preach by making sure senior staff are taking the full amount of leave to which they are entitled.

2. Advertise the benefits

Do all your employees know why it’s important for them to take time off? It’s likely that employees who tend more towards workaholism would be more likely to take annual leave seriously if they understand some of the health risks associated with overworking and not taking breaks. You can use some of the information above, for example!

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3. Make sure work can be covered

One of the main reasons why employees may feel pressured not to take their full annual leave entitlement is because they’re worried that their work can’t be effectively covered and may become a strain on their colleagues while they are away. Monitoring workloads and creating backup plans for when certain employees are away (making sure that crucial information and systems are always securely accessible) will help the business maintain efficiency and the employee take their leave.

4. Monitor holiday entitlements

It’s important to monitor your employees’ remaining holiday entitlement throughout the leave year to ensure holiday is being taken fully and consistently. Not only does this mean that staff are spreading out their holidays and having regular downtime – it helps the business ensure that they are staffed effectively and productivity is not impacted.

You can keep up with calculating and tracking holiday entitlements manually or may want to check out a holiday management software solution to automate holiday entitlement calculations and have access to a staff holiday planner for a clear overview.

Learn more about how holiday management software can help your business calculate holiday entitlements and track who is on annual leave when.

holiday management software

5. Ensure staff fully switch off

Getting some staff to take their holidays can be half the struggle. There is also the possibility that, while on that holiday, they may still be doing work! This is called leaveism, which includes any scenario where an employee is working when they shouldn’t be (outside of work hours, or when they are on sick leave or annual leave).

Having clear policies on employees’ right to disconnect when outside of work will help curb behaviours like checking work emails, so everyone can fully switch off and recharge when they’re on annual leave.

Read more from the myhrtoolkit blog

How to address workplace stress and avoid employee claims

Presenteeism in the workplace: 10 ways to tackle it

Picture of Camille Brouard

Written by Camille Brouard

Camille is a Senior Marketing Executive for myhrtoolkit who writes on topics including HR technology, workplace culture, leave management, diversity, and mental health at work.

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