Shocking | What does HR need to know about the 2020 holiday drought?

What does HR need to know about the 2020 holiday drought?

2020 is a holiday write off. That is, according to burnt-out workers as they ignore the need to take leave, potentially causing HR a massive holiday headache.

In fact, the average British worker has not taken any leave from work for more than two months – and has shelved nine days off of what they had planned to take because of the lockdown.

Of the 2,000 workers polled by SPANA, an animal charity, more than half said they had 'completely written off’ 2020 when it came to taking holidays from work.

Burnout cliff edge

With workers deciding not to take a break, this causes a potential wellbeing headache for HR.

Of the workers polled, three quarters said they feared burnout, with the average worker feeling they need a break every 43 days to maintain their mental health.

Separate data suggests many already are burnt out. Research from Glint revealed that burnout doubled from March (2.7%) to April (5.4%) 2020.

It’s not just because of lack of time off that workers are feeling the strain. Glint’s data found that those employees struggling to balance their personal and professional lives – whether this is down to factors such as childcare duties or caring responsibilities – were 4.4 times more likely to display signs of burnout.

Previously, workers have noted how their days have tacked longer as they worked from home, but according to SPANA’s figure, 16% of those surveyed think they have enough free time at home now – due to not having to commute – that it seemed pointless to take leave.

Burnout stats suggest a different story though – so could taking time off be the fix?

Going away

Whilst the study found seven in 10 would be happy enough just taking a few days away from work to unwind and spend at home, some want to go away to get a proper break.

Over 50% said they don’t feel annual leave is a ‘holiday’ from work unless they actually stay somewhere other than their own home.

Yet half would just like some time just to relax in the garden – if the weather stays clement.

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Another 42% have TV programmes or books they’d like to catch up on, and a fifth would spend the time decorating their property.

However, many would only take a break as a last resort. A further 31% would be more inclined to take leave if they were losing sleep at night, while others would take a rest if they were feeling exhausted (54%) unable to concentrate (36%) or crying for no reason (23%).

Geoffrey Dennis, Chief Executive of SPANA, added: “In a period of great upheaval and major change in a short space of time, the current situation is very stressful and challenging for many workers. And breaks from work are absolutely essential for our mental well-being.

Encouraging annual leave and wellbeing

Yet, despite many staff not wanting to take annual leave, it is imperative that they do.  

This notion was corroborated by Twitter’s EMEA HR Lead, Anne Kiely, who said taking annual leave is “hugely important for our mental strength and wellbeing to switch off”.

Yet annual leave isn’t the only touted fix to burnout and wellbeing issues. Justin Black, Head of People Science at Glint, said the importance of communication should never be overlooked, regardless of whether employers are tackling a crisis.

He exclusively told HR Grapevine: "With the amount of upheaval we’re all facing in the workplace, it’s very unlikely that the threat of burnout will disappear anytime soon.

“As a manager, you can help protect and promote your team’s health and wellbeing by checking in with them regularly and offering encouragement, resources, guidance, and other support. It's also important to refocus priorities, which will help your teams work better, be healthier, and be more fulfilled in their roles, as well as help the business prepare for recovery.”

HR should also be encouraging line managers to regularly check in on employees to gauge how they are coping and what personal responsibilities they have. Finding this out will ensure that no one has too much on at any one time.

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