When it comes to taking time off work, could going on a holiday really boost your career? Look investigates...
Are you about to turn on your OOO? Or maybe schedule in your next break? No? Still got to use up a lot of your holiday allowance? You’re not alone. While some of us have already marked out our 2018 breaks, can you believe that millennials are the generation most likely to miss out on their allocated work holiday allowance? In fact, a whopping 77 per cent of us only take a third of our annual leave. But far from the martyrdom you might think comes with that, new research has revealed you could be harming your chances of a promotion (and therefore a pay rise) by not taking a break.
Studies show that using your holiday allowance is the best way to boost productivity levels, and research commissioned by Hostelworld has suggested it makes you better at your job as it boosts productivity and your own experience within the workplace. Two thirds of those who’d travelled revealed their experience had helped them to understand what they wanted to do with their life, while 51 per cent said it was useful in figuring out where they wanted to go within their company, making them more focused and reliable. And that figure increased when employers were asked. Hostelworld found that over 83 per cent of employers said they preferred candidates who’d travelled.
Why is it, then, that millennials like us are still not fulfilling our annual holiday quota? Everyone knows how much better it is to be by a pool than on shift, surely? ‘It’s now July and I’ve taken no annual leave so far this year,’ says Amy Bradbury, 30, a restaurant manager from Luton. ‘I forget to plan ahead and then work gets on top of me. Plus I don’t want to leave my team in the lurch.’
According to experts, there are several reasons for not taking holiday – but the
top one within our age group? The new trend we’re calling ‘vacation shaming’. ‘Going on holiday? Alright for some!’ – tell us that isn’t a phrase you haven’t heard, or even used, in the past year?
In fact, we’re a nation of holiday shamers. A 2016 study revealed that 59 per cent of workers reported feeling shamed by colleagues and bosses over vacation days. Like Amy, respondents in a recent survey admitted they feel guilt at even taking a few days off, with 33 per cent claiming the guilt stops them actually going away at all.
‘I’ve been shamed a few times,’ admits Elsa Jameson, 27, a care assistant from Wales. ‘I’m good at planning my breaks and I like something to look forward to, so I try to squeeze in as much time abroad as I can. But there are colleagues who’ve been quite mean about it. I heard someone talking about me in the staff canteen recently, joking that I’m “always away”. I worry it could affect my chances of promotion, but I have a stressful job and I always feel refreshed when I’ve had time off.’
So who’s to blame for us not taking our holiday – us, or the company we work for? It turns out it’s a bit of both.
While your company has a responsibility to ensure you take regular breaks, HR experts reveal it’s really up to you. According to the government, paid annual leave is a legal right that an employer must provide, while most five-day-a-week workers must receive at least 28 days’ paid annual leave per year, which can include bank holidays.
However, some companies have taken things to new levels. The likes of Netflix and Linkedin now offer staff unlimited holidays. ‘We allow our team to take as much time off as they need per year,’ says Ali Maynard, 30, business director at PR company Manifest London. ‘Why? It’s important in our industry to take a break, to switch off and to recharge. You don’t have to “save” days for emergencies and December is no longer the time of year when you have to use up remaining days. People always ask if it leads to issues, but we’ve found it a hugely successful initiative – treat people like adults and they behave like adults. I feel it really motivates the team.’
Career coach Hollie Jenson recommends trying to plan regular breaks and days off at the start of the year, but if you missed that memo, start from now and work with your employer for the best times for you. Trust us, it will be seriously worth it.
Is it time to let go of your holiday guilt?