May is Bank Holiday month and for most people this means extra time with their family – a bit of gardening if the weather is nice (sadly no guarantees in the UK), some DIY or just the chance to relax. While there is no legal obligation for businesses to give staff a day off on a bank holiday, there are some real benefits to supporting your employees with Bank Holiday days off and of course, annual paid leave.
Maintaining a work life balance is an important factor in employee satisfaction – particularly in high stress jobs. Research shows that when employees are happy they tend to have increased levels of performance and creativity; the quality of work improves, and they pay more attention to detail.
1 in 6 Britons Don’t Use Full Holiday Entitlement
Surprisingly, a report in 2016* revealed that around 40% of British workforce did not utilise their full holiday entitlement. Statistics from Office of National Statistics (ONS) reveal that workers spend less than half of their holiday allowance on leisure and relaxation. More than half say they spend an average of seven holiday days at home doing household chores, 32% use holiday to go to medical appointments to avoid using sick days and unpaid leave.
But holidays, and time off are essential for personal health and wellbeing and for the safety of any business. Anyone who works excessively long hours or doesn’t take holiday breaks could be impacting their ability to do an effective job; performance levels can drop, and employees may start making mistakes in their day-to-day work – which could be costly for the business. In some industries, like manufacturing, farming or construction, fatigue-related accidents could even be fatal.
In a recent interview, Simon Briault of the Federation of Small Businesses was clear about the importance of time off “It is important for employees to take the time off they are entitled to. Everybody needs a break to relax and unwind.”
Creating A Healthy Work/Life Balance
As recruiters we are aware that candidates are looking more seriously at work/life balance when applying for and accepting jobs. Working in partnership with clients we also get a real insight into company culture and it’s encouraging to see that more companies are now reviewing work/life balance as an important factor in staff recruitment and retention.
Shrewd businesses know that getting a healthy balance for employees not only reduces absenteeism and ill-health but has a positive impact on morale and can lead to high productivity. It also reduces unscheduled leave – staff at all levels of a business value time off. Any increase in happiness and morale among the workforce has the knock-on effect on higher staff retention.
There is even proof that time off is good for business. The ONS releases figures every year which makes international comparisons of UK productivity and it makes for interesting reading (if you have time) Click here
Countries that work less are in fact more productive; the French, for example, are far more productive than the UK even though they spend a lot of time drinking wine and eating cheese!