For many of us, using our annual leave is something we really look forward to each year. Whether your annual leave entitlement is 13 or 30 days, you have full control over what you decide to do. Whether it’s a 2 week holiday in the Bahamas or kicking your feet up in front of the TV, a bit of time off gives you a well-deserved rest and allows you to do things you wouldn’t usually be able to.
But are us Brits using our time off wisely? And how many of us feel that annual leave is wasted if you stay at home?
In this article we share all of the latest annual leave statistics, including what people want to do with their annual leave in 2020 and comment from an expert about the risks of not taking enough annual leave.
How do people in the UK use their annual leave?
Given that 79% of British workers commonly experience work-related stress, it’d be easy to assume that employees would be eager to ensure they’re using all of their holiday allowance each year.
However, a study conducted by the job website Glassdoor found that the average employee only takes 62% of their holiday allowance. Shockingly, it was also found that 7% of workers are not given their full minimum paid leave entitlement, which suggests that many workers may not be getting enough time off work each year.
In a survey conducted in 2020, CitySuites asked the general public how they would like to spend their holidays this year. The study found that of those of us who use our annual leave to go on holiday;
- 42.6%* would prefer to go on holiday in the UK this year
- 24.5% want to go on holiday abroad as soon as possible
- 21.5% don’t want to go on holiday at all this year and would rather stay at home during their days off work
*This is based on the combined percentage of people who said they’d prefer to holiday in the UK until there is a Coronavirus vaccine (24.9%) and those who said they’d prefer to holiday in the UK, regardless of the Coronavirus pandemic (17.76%).
Is annual leave wasted if you stay at home?
It’s easy to think that if you don’t have plans in place (a holiday booked, a special occasion coming up, etc) that you’ll be wasting your annual leave if you take time off work. However, according to Environmental Psychologist and Wellbeing Consultant Lee Chambers MSc MBPsS, making sure to use all of your annual leave is extremely important.
As the founder of Essentialise Workplace Wellbeing and after spending the last few years applying wellbeing strategy to improve performance and health outcomes in both Elite Sports and SME’s across the UK, Lee now works internationally across a variety of sectors.
Why do people avoid taking leave?
“We all have a contract as employees that states we have an entitlement to an amount of days every year. Despite this, we are much more likely to pay attention to the psychological limits that we have in our minds. These unwritten rules often guide our judgement, leaving us making decisions we are not always fully aware of. Maybe the culture is biased towards being present. You might feel that things will fall apart if you're not there. Maybe your colleagues need you. It might be a reflection on you, and workers who are overwhelmed have a tendency to forget about taking the breaks they need as self-care falls down the list of priorities.
There are also the considerations that you have too much work to catch up on if you leave, not being able to take holiday when you need it most (for example, school holidays) and a general feeling that being the office warrior will get you first in line for a pay increase and last of the queue to be made redundant in the future.”
What impact could not taking enough time off have on your mental health?
“Annual leave is a legal entitlement to ensure the provision of working breaks, and this is to have employees recharging and disconnecting from work. Burnout is a real possibility if you do not take your leave and disconnect from work. The feeling of becoming fatigued and exhausted will leave you feeling unmotivated, cynical of the future and others, and struggling to concentrate.
It can start to affect your emotional and hormonal regulation, with you finding yourself more likely to fall into conflict, make mistakes, and feel that life isn’t worth living. In this cycle, we start to struggle with work and then try to work harder to make it up, leaving us even more jaded and despondent.”
Is a day off ‘wasted’ if you don’t do anything/go anywhere?
“We tend to get stuck in the cycle of annual leave being holiday, and holiday meaning we travel. Yet the power of annual leave comes from the disconnection from working and removal for a working environment, and that is where the majority of the wellbeing benefits are.
As long as you don’t fall into working from home, those benefits of disconnecting from work and doing something else - even if it isn’t the sparkly holiday - are vital as they give us time to recharge and rest the wheel of work that spins inside us. Sometimes we actually just need to book a pyjama day and give ourselves a bit of slow self-care that we so rarely get in this highly dynamic and interconnected world.”
Is it important to use your days off?
“They exist for a reason, and it’s vital to use your days off for your health and wellbeing, even if you feel like you don’t need to. Not taking breaks is both physically and psychologically damaging, reducing both our performance and creativity at work, and reducing our immunity and happiness over the long term. Just having a break from the routine and being able to wake without work can boost our mood and give us a shot of energy. And in a time when we have a lot of restrictions on our freedoms, it’s even more important to exercise our right to book some time off for ourselves.”
What other benefits are there to taking time off work?
“When we take time off, the rest and relaxation help us to grow. It is important we try and disconnect during this time to get the benefits of not being bombarded with stimuli and inputs like we are at work, but to let our minds rest and run away, out of the cycle of busy and what next.”
We hope this article has been useful in giving you all of the latest annual leave statistics and advice from an experienced workplace psychologist. If you’re thinking of booking a trip for a getaway in the UK, CitySuites has a wide range of luxurious and relaxing options available to choose from to help you disconnect from work and have some ‘you’ time.