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I recently went away for some winter sun in Dubai, it was lovely. I forgot all about work and returned a week later feeling refreshed and ready to crack on with the busy, and at times, stressful job of recruiting interim lawyers. I have had a fantastic year with trips away this year; I got married so had an amazing honeymoon in South Africa and the Seychelles as well as trips to Croatia and Dubai. My holidays have been maxed out but it was a different story a few years ago during my bachelor days. In those days rarely did I get to the end of the year without having at least a third of my holiday allowance in tact and when I did go away I would be constantly calling the office and checking in on emails.
I realised that in the past I had been missing out on taking my full allowance of holidays. But I was not the only one to do so; in a recent survey Glassdoor found that the average UK employee only uses 77% of their annual leave. Those aged between 16 and 24 were least likely to take all of their holiday allowance, with only 12% using the full amount.
It has been suggested that it is due to habit that people don’t use all of their holiday allowance; in a fast paced environment like a law firm, new recruits want to show their willingness and enthusiasm for their new bosses and so holidays are a second thought to the work. Whilst not taking holidays may seem helpful to your career it can also be damaging. “Evidence shows you become less productive without proper breaks. Even if people work longer hours, they’re not as creative and can’t maintain the same intensity level,” says Penny de Valk, managing director of talent management at global HR services group, Penna.
Glassdoor’s survey also went on to reveal that a staggering 44% of employees reported doing work on their holidays with 17% feeling obliged to check their emails and 8% feeling that they were expected to check voicemails whilst on holiday.
So what’s the solution? Understanding the expectations of your employer is a good start. A good manager will expect his colleagues to switch off whilst on holiday and use the time to recharge the batteries. Perhaps if you work in a highly pressurised environment work out the best times of the year to take holidays so you don’t feel obliged to work on the beach.
But from experience my advice is to make the most of the 25 paid holiday days, leave your work smartphone in your desk drawer and leave your work in the capable hand of your colleagues.