As we’ve detailed reasons in several of our previous posts, encouraging your employees to use all their annual leave is one of the best things you can do for the long term health and prosperity of your company. When your staff frequently takes time off, they’re less likely to fall victim to burnout, take fewer sick days, maintain or increase their productivity, and are less liable to leave your company. 

The thing is, however, understanding why your staff should take more time off and getting them to actually do so, are two different matters entirely. Despite your best intentions, you still might encounter a little resistance when trying to get your staff to take more holiday. 

In this post, we’ll look at why some employees might be reluctant to book annual leave and a few ideas on how to get them to take time off. 

Why might staff not take their use their entire holiday allowance?

On the surface, the idea that someone wouldn’t use up their annual leave is a strange one, right? After all, additional annual leave is one of the most sought after non-monetary benefits by employees. However, studies have shown that only 62% of employees take their full annual leave allowance.  Here are a few of the main reasons why this might happen.  

  • Workload: An employee could have a higher workload than they can handle and be reluctant to take time off as they fear they’ll fall behind. 
  • Company attitude: A company may engender an attitude that discourages its staff from taking annual leave. This could be in a target driving environment, like sales, or one where there are frequent tight deadlines and an attitude that you’re going to do whatever it takes to deliver on time. 
  • Job insecurity: Related to above: an employee may be insecure about their position in the company and unwilling to take time off as they feel it could reflect badly on them. This could be due to the fact they’re new, feel their recent performance has been underwhelming, or could be a product of the employee’s personality.
  • Bravado: On the subject of personalities, some employees refuse to take sufficient annual leave because they’re keen to prove to themselves and/or their colleagues that they’re a workhorse that doesn’t need time off. 
  • Small company: If an organisation only has a few employees, some people feel they’re letting their colleagues down if they take holiday too frequently. 

Ways to encourage staff to take more annual leave

Here are a few ideas to encourage your staff to take more time off.

  • Lead by example

If you’re serious about encouraging your staff to take more time off, make sure the desired change starts at the top – managers need to lead by example by frequently booking days off. Just as importantly, they need to establish that when they’re off, they’re off and aren’t to be uncontacted. 

  • Regular reminders 

Whether it’s through emails, team meetings, or during one-on-one conversations, frequently remind employees to book annual leave. Over time, the idea that they’re expected to take regular time off will become ingrained in your staff’s minds and will eventually become part of your company’s culture. 

  • Check in with employees who’ve not used much of their allowance

Identify which employees haven’t used much of their annual leave and take the time to ask why they haven’t done so. You could discover, on one hand, that they’re struggling with their workload or are afraid of saddling their co-workers with more work. Alternatively, they could have a couple of big holidays planned and are stacking up their annual leave for that. Whatever their reasons, by checking in with them, you’ll have a better idea of why they haven’t taken sufficient time off and how you can potentially help them.  

  • Make the process easy

The more effort it takes for employees to book time off, the higher the chance that they’ll continually put it off. Consequently, you should make the process as easy as possible so there’s minimal friction between the decision to take time off and following through and booking it. 

  • Only require adequate notice for booking time off 

Though it’s better for a company if their employees give them as much notice as possible when they’re planning to take time off, there needs to be a balance so the required notice isn’t too restrictive. The less notice you require, the more spontaneous and flexible staff when it comes to booking time off. 

ScheduleLeave is a staff holiday planner that makes booking time off easy. It allows staff to check the availability of dates before booking time off, request their desired dates, and for you to approve them at the touch of a button. ScheduleLeave also features powerful reporting tools that allow you to determine, at a glance, which employees haven’t used much of their annual leave allowance and need to take more time off.  To how much ScheduleLeave can do for your company, book your free trial today