Holiday Days: How Do Employers Encourage Employees to Take Them?
In our latest newsletter, we discussed the importance of annual leave and its effect on the workplace, and the striking fact that so many employees in today’s workforce do not use all their days: up to an astonishing 62% according to the latest figures1. The current state of affairs begs one crucial question, and that is – how do employers encourage their employees to take their annual leave?
How to encourage employees to take annual leave
1. Lead by Example
“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means”
- Albert Einstein
One of the most powerful ways to encourage or influence employees in any way is to lead by example, and the subject of annual leave is no different. When employees see their leaders taking holidays and enjoying their time off, it sends a clear message that annual leave is not only permiss but also valued, appreciated and recommended.
Employer’s actions in this regard set the tone for work-life balance within the company, both for good and for ill: over 10% of workers say that the reason they don’t take their annual leave is because they felt pressured from management. As an employer, take yours and you set the right tone for the rest.
2. Provide Clear and Comprehensive Leave Policies
Clear and comprehensive leave policies that are easy to understand are another foundational aspect of encouraging holiday use. These policies should outline the process for requesting leave, the approval procedure and any important deadlines or restrictions. By providing transparency, employees are far more likely to feel confident in taking their annual leave.
3. Promote a Culture of Wellbeing
“Good health is good business”
- Paul Drechsler
Companies that prioritise employee wellbeing above all else create a culture that encourages taking annual leave. This can include offering wellness programs, flexible work arrangements, stress management resources and employee incentive schemes and benefits. Such initiatives demonstrate a genuine concern for the health and happiness of employees and can contribute to a higher rate of employees taking their leave.
4. Encourage Planning Ahead
“Always plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark”
- Richard Cushing
When workers do take their annual leave, it’s useful to have them plan ahead so that you can ensure proper workload distribution and that projects are not delayed due to absence. By providing an additional incentive for planning ahead, such as allowing priority in leave approval, you can urge your employees to arrange their time off well in advance. What’s more, by opting for this method, you can benefit from the secondary effect of making employees feel more comfortable in taking their holidays, as they know that their role and responsibilities will be ably covered for the duration.
5. Offer Financial Incentives
Time is money, or so the saying goes, and monetary incentives can be a powerful motivator for employees to take their annual leave. Some companies provide bonuses or even reimbursements to employees who use all of their allocated leave days – this approach not only motivates employees to take time off but also serves as a recognition of their dedication and commitment.
6. Limit Rollover Days
Although most UK businesses opt for the ‘use it or lose it’ model, even in alternative methods – such as ‘rollover’ annual leave – setting a cap on the number of holiday days that can be carried over into the next year can be a motivator for employees to use their annual leave. When employees know they can’t hoard their leave days indefinitely, they may be more likely to plan and utilise their time off.
7. Provide Coverage Plans
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”
- Benjamin Franklin
Offering a clear plan for cover during an employee’s absence can alleviate the fear of leaving colleagues in a difficult position, and the stress and worry that comes with it. This can include cross-training employees, outsourcing temporary help, or, as mentioned previously, ensuring a temporary workload redistribution. Having these strategies in place makes it easier for employees to step away with confidence.
8. Recognise and Celebrate Employee Efforts
Acknowledging employees who regularly take their annual leave and maintain a healthy work-life balance can inspire others to do the same. Recognising their dedication to both their job and personal wellbeing sends a strong message that the company values its employees’ health.
9. Conduct Stay Interviews
Instead of waiting for exit interviews, employers can proactively engage in stay interviews to understand what might be preventing employees from taking their annual leave. These conversations can reveal any barriers or concerns and allow the company to tackle them promptly. After all, it’s often difficult to know what’s going on underneath the surface, and there may be deeper issues that need to be addressed before progress can be made.
10. Understand Your Legal Requirements
Above all else, it’s important to consider that annual leave entitlements are a legal requirement. This means that failure to give your employees the time off they are entitled to can result in grievances, disputes and, in the long run, tribunal hearings.
The allowances for holiday days are as follows:
- 5.6 weeks of holiday (28 days) for those who work a 5-day week
- The equivalent of 5.6 weeks holiday for part time workers, e.g. 3 days a week by 5.6 = 16.8 days
- Shift/hourly workers must accrue holiday based on the total hours worked per average week, at the same rate as above.
Encouraging employees to take their leave is perhaps, more than anything else, an investment.
It’s an investment in their health, their wellbeing and their motivation. It’s an investment in your employees themselves, and in turn, an investment in your own business. Why? Because a workforce that is well-rested is better motivated. It’s better able to weather the storms and stresses of work; it’s better able to respond to change and accommodate disaster.
Time off now is ultimately much less time off later. The spectre of burnout looms large over any employee, no matter their position. By encouraging healthy use of annual leave, you as an employer keep that spectre at bay, and gain as a business in return.
For further advice, or for any questions or queries you may have, why not contact our dedicated team of friendly HR professionals today on 01455 444 222 or email [email protected].
1. Timetastic. (2023). The State of Annual Leave – Statistics for 2022 & 2023.https://timetastic.co.uk/blog/annual-leave-statistics/
James is our resident wordsmith and has many years of experience in writing about a huge variety of topics from HR to Occupational Health and beyond. He has been published in numerous magazines and news outlets, and especially enjoys researching and analysing the current trends in the modern business world.