Adrian Lewis

Help ensure staff don’t miss out on holiday leave

With Christmas just around the corner it can be the last chance for employees who haven’t taken their full holiday entitlement to try to squeeze in leave, which can cause issues in the office.

A ‘use it or lose it policy’ often means a last minute dash to book time off before the end of the year, potentially leaving the office low staffed or colleagues stressed as they end up taking the slack.

Workers can end up losing out on holidays if they have left booking leave until the end of the year. Smaller companies especially won’t be able to let several people be off at once, as they wouldn’t be able to function, plus it’s unfair on colleagues left having to cope with extra workloads.

It’s important though for workers to take their full holiday entitlement otherwise it can impact their health and wellbeing, leading to stress or burnout. Employers need to do more to encourage people to take holidays throughout the year, and avoid leaving it until the end of the year.

A survey from recruitment web site, Glassdoor last year found that two in five UK employees (40%) reported taking a maximum of just half their annual leave entitlement during the last holiday year, with the average employee taking just 62% of their allowance. Of those that did use their allowance, 23% regularly checked emails, and 15% continued working through fear of getting behind and the consequences of not hitting their targets. When broken down by age groups, young workers were the least likely to take their full allowance, with only 35% of 18-24 year olds and 40% of 25-34 year olds taking between 91-100% of their allowance in their last full holiday year.

Many workers face job insecurity especially with the economic uncertainty around Brexit and a raft of well-known companies closing this year. This can make people fearful of taking time off, but it’s important people take holidays and enjoy time away from the office relaxing.

For employers it also means they have more motivated and productive staff as people come back refreshed. One way for employers to make sure people take their holidays is to invest in software that keeps track of holiday leave and flags up when someone has a lot of days owing.

Absent management technology for example tracks all absence, including sickness and holiday leave so managers have an instant overview. This helps ensure the office is always fully staffed and employees are taking time off regularly throughout the year. Here are my tips to help companies stay on top of staff leave:

  • Send out a monthly email reminding staff to book their holidays as early as possible
  • Always encourage people to take their holidays. Managers should reinforce the holiday policy and show that they are keen for employees to take their full entitlement.
  • Have a robust system in place for managing leave. Paper-based systems are not ideal, especially if more than one person is able to authorise leave. Plus for larger organisations it can be difficult to get a company-wide overview.
  • Cloud-based absence management software offers a better solution, so that managers can see in an instant who is off when, helping to avoid clashes. It also makes requesting and signing off holiday leave more efficient.
  • Employers can also use this software to set triggers, for example if an employee has only taken 50% of their annual leave by a certain date, they can flag this up. This is a useful tool which can prompt managers to speak to individuals and find out why they’re not using their leave entitlement.
  • Absence management software can also flag up people who are taking a lot of time off sick. The system triggers return to work interviews, which allow managers to start a conversation and address what is going on.

Companies not already tracking holiday and sick leave should think about investing in absence management technology, so they can start off 2020 with a robust system in place. This can help improve health and wellbeing by ensuring staff take time off, as well as reduce their sickness bill.

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