Why don’t employees take their annual leave?

Date: Wednesday, 8th August, 2018

Annual leave is a benefit all employees receive. In the UK, the typical allocation is around 28 days, during which we’re encouraged to leave our work and focus on relaxing and rejuvenating.

However a number of surveys have highlighted the fact that us Brits are terrible at taking time out. A survey carried out by Glassdoor found that 40% of employees in the UK only used a maximum of half their annual leave over the past holiday year. While 23% of us can’t help but check work emails while away, and a stressed out 15% even did some work to avoid falling behind before their return to the office!

So it is always in a company’s best interest to make sure their employees have a healthy work-life balance, below we list a few benefits of taking annual leave including:

  • Health
  • Stress relief
  • Productivity
  • Trust

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Health benefits

Taking time away from business gives our bodies and minds the chance to realign. It’s our opportunity to relax, away from the pressures of our day job, and to focus on other areas of our lives that also make us happy, such as friends and family.

Much like sleep helps our bodies rejuvenate, annual leave is an important part of our year and one of the very few chances we get to truly forget about work.

This in turn relieves stress. We delegate tasks to our colleagues while we’re away, which means the period prior to annual leave is usually one in which we complete tasks and re-prioritised. This helps us to focus and clear our minds, bringing our levels of stress down.


When we work constantly, our bodies are prone to burn out, this is where we’ve worked hard for so long, we simply can’t do it anymore.

Time out of the office gives you a chance to relieve that stress and think about things in a more positive manner, with clarity to help you work more productively and effectively.

Encouraging your employees to use their annual leave can also reduce the number of sick days taken each year, which has a tangible impact on your bottom line.

Building trust

It’s important we show our colleagues that we trust them with our work, and that we can rely on them to do a great job in our absence. Taking annual leave, especially if you’re more senior in a business, tells your colleagues that you do trust them and gives them the chance to develop professionally too.

Top tips for annual leave

Follow these tips to make the most of your annual leave time:

  1. Set an out of office response that gives people an alternative contact during your absence
  2. Turn off your email notifications and work phone so you can relax and forget about your day job
  3. Delegate work in advance so your colleagues have chance to ask questions of you before you leave

Time for a break?

Many companies are implementing initiatives to make working life more flexible. But despite that, we’re still failing to even take our full annual leave allocation.

It’s an important part of a companies culture to lead the way in ensuring employees take the holiday they deserve and reinforce that the business won’t fall apart just because employees have been away for a few weeks!

So if your company, or indeed you, are less about sun, sea and sangria and more about spreadsheets, skills and stress maybe it’s time to rethink – after all, even sunburn has to be preferable to burn out!

If you need any advice, please get in touch with us to find out more.

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