Around one in twelve workers are not taking their full holiday entitlement1. This statistic, provided by the TUC, comes at a time when almost 600,000 workers are struggling with work-related stress, depression or anxiety2 leading to 15.4m working days lost, and at the same time the Office for National Statistics reports that sickness absence has fallen to the lowest level on record3. Clearly, these figures don’t mesh very well; so, what’s going on?
Presenteeism and the rise of ‘guilt-culture’.
While employee benefits are becoming more and more important in designing workplace wellness programmes, we need to make sure that the fundamentals of managing workload and, more importantly, workplace culture, are being managed properly.
“What should not be overlooked is that excessive hours can have a negative effect on job performance and cause costly or reputation-damaging mistakes. Fatigue-related accidents are potentially life-threatening. Employers need to ensure that they do everything in their power to improve productivity through efficiency improvements rather than by overloading their staff.” Melissa Compton-Edwards, author “Married To The Job”
In some workplaces, taking legally entitled annual leave, or sick leave, can bring a sense of guilt. Instead of focussing on your wellbeing, health and ultimately your ability to keep working well, concerns go to the impact of your absence on the rest of your team, your clients, and your professional reputation as a ‘reliable worker’. Whilst it’s healthy to promote a sense of shared responsibility and accountability among teams, maintaining a culture where staff become anxious about taking time off can not only increase stress and anxiety – it can also become a health and safety issue.
One symptom of such cultures is the rise of ‘presenteeism’. The logical antithesis to ‘absenteeism’, where staff do not attend work even though they are fit to work, presenteeism sees staff come in when they should really be at home resting or recuperating. The ‘guilt culture’ plays into this, but amazingly there is also an increasing number of employers who are tending to raise the proverbial eyebrow to workers asking to take the holiday that they’re entitled to; this worrying trend is seen most in agriculture and retail environments4.
Why making sure that your staff get breaks is good for business.
It’s not a huge leap of logic to say that an unwell worker will not be as productive as that same worker when they’re ‘at 100%’. At the end of the day, productivity and the completion of key tasks should be the measure of success for workers, rather than their punch-card. Additionally, everyone is different, and some people might need more time off than others. An annual holiday purchase scheme is a great way to give flexibility to staff that will value extra days of leave and it actively encourages staff to use more or all of their entitlement. For each day of leave that an employee buys, your salary bill is reduced and you save the employer’s national insurance contributions that would have been payable. Valuable budget that you could use to fund further benefits for your people.
Looking after your staff not only makes them better at what they do, it also improves staff retention and engagement – supporting your leadership and management team in their goals and activities to grow your business!
Contact Touchpoint to speak to one of our consultants about how we can help your business and your people. Call us on 0345 548 4106 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
[1, 4] https://www.personneltoday.com/hr/more-than-a-million-employees-not-taking-holiday-at-risk-of-burnout-tuc/ | Retrieved 14/06/2019
 http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/stress.pdf | Retrieved 14/06/2019
 https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/articles/ sicknessabsencefallstothelowestratein24years/2018-07-30 | Retrieved 14/06/2019