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Leadership | 5 min

How to encourage your employees to take annual leave

How to encourage your employees to take annual leave

Holiday leave with nowhere to holiday? Managing employee leave is hard at the best of times. It’s a balance between how much leave can be accrued or expended and managing capacity when workloads are light. During a regular year, many businesses expect a low period around the holiday season and some force their team members to take leave.

Except, this isn’t a normal year… 

COVID-19 has taken everything we thought we knew and turned it on its head. Naturally, the changes of this year are also going to impact your leave requirements going forward. 

 

Is leave a business risk?

People haven’t been taking leave this year – it’s been a bit hard to when there’s a global pandemic. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t need a break, and burnout can be a real risk when we’re not looking after ourselves and our team. But the annual leave accrued over this year has left a large leave balance which could be a risk to your business. 

Downsizing

If your business has been struggling over the course of this year and is considering downsizing the team, you should consider leave balances. Paying out leave at the end of a team member’s time with your organisation can be expensive, but if you’re looking to downsize multiple team members then this balance could quickly blow out. 

Post COVID-19 holidays

If your team is blue sky planning for when lockdown lifts and planning that holiday away, then you need to be considering the cost of this. Chances are when travel restrictions are loosened, your team is going to want to go on that much-needed holiday and you might have multiple leave applications when that occurs. 

Not only could this leave your team potentially understaffed, but the cost of running your business with low inflow of cash could damage your bottom line. 

It might be time to think about what you’re doing with your team’s leave balances over the holiday period. 

 

Encouraging staff to take annual  leave

It’s evident that the risks associated with leave can be detrimental to your bottom line, so how do you navigate this?

The best way to go about leave is to work with your people and set reasonable expectations around leave applications and approvals. Include your people in the process so that they’re able to communicate their needs to you best. This will ensure that whatever the outcome is, there has been consideration to their needs. 

 

Finding solutions

If you haven’t introduced a mandatory holiday period over the summer break, it might be worth broaching the topic with your people to see how they respond to the idea. This can be a fantastic opportunity for people to reconnect with their friends and family and recharge their batteries. 

However, if workloads are high over the holiday period, this may not be an option for your teams. A great alternative to this would be to set a date with your team and give them a number of days leave which you recommend they should take before then. 

Members of your team will then have the opportunity to take their leave and book a holiday in a time that suits them. Some team members will see this as an opportunity to space out their leave requirements and take a few extra long weekends.

 

Looking after your people

The mental health of your team is important to consider and the direction to take annual leave may cause some stress. That’s why it’s so important to make these decisions in consultation with your people so that the most equitable solution can be found. 

It is important to remember that this year has been extremely stressful and that if your team hasn’t taken time off yet, the opportunity to slow down will benefit them greatly in the long run. If you haven’t yet, consider introducing an Employee Assistance Program for extra support if your team is having trouble dealing with stress.

Checking-in regularly with your people is a great way to understand opinions and to work with your team. Feedback is the key to positive change within your organisation, and we would love to chat to you more options you can take to improve your feedback cycle.

 

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