Why Annual-Leave Shaming is Bad for Business


The hidden cost of not taking holidays.

Woman jumping into the ocean from high up

“Change is as good as a holiday” can only get you so far – the reality is that annual leave doesn’t just exist to give you a few weeks to throw all your life savings in the air, it’s an imperative part of your recharge process, actively leading to better productivity and a workplace with a healthy dose of morale and good culture.

But a whole contingent of millennials aren’t taking any leave at all: a US-based report from late last year from Bankrate.com found that of those in the 18 to 25 age bracket, one in four employees won’t have used a single day from 2016, compared to one in 10 employees across broader age brackets.

Why? The leading reason still remains that they’re saving them up for later, but another prevailing reason is that they fear being “holiday shamed”. This survey echoes the same sentiment, revealing that of 1,500 American adults, 59 per cent of millennials and 41 per cent of older employees feel a sense of shame when they head into the sunset for a rest.

Here are a few reasons little leave taken means bigger overall costs – to employer and employee.

Burnout = low productivity

We all know the negative effects of burnout on our mental health, but do you know just how much it effects the work you’re trying to do? You might think you can run forever on a diet of coffee and fear, but the truth is, even if you’re sitting at your desk awake, it doesn’t mean you’re getting your best work done – burnout actively does the opposite according to studies, by seriously impeding your performance and work engagement levels.

For employers, the cost is a little more tangible: stress-related leave cost Australian businesses more than $133.9 million in benefits in the 2004/2005 tax year and that figure is on the rise.

High staff turnover

Who wants to work in a place that frowns upon taking a break? The culture of a workplace is pivotal, both for the mental health of employees, but also for employers trying to attract and keep talent: this fascinating research proves that 45 per cent of respondents (aged under 35), ranked work-life balance as their first workplace priority. If you’re not offering that, it’s not surprising that your employees will look elsewhere.

Taking their leave in another way

If you’re leave deprived, with no way of taking it without feeling like your office will turn on you, you’ll probably look elsewhere when you need some space to breathe.

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