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How to encourage employees to take annual leave

2 min read | 20 June, 2017 By Melissa Jones


Many businesses have time periods throughout the year when they prefer for employees not to take holiday. It might be an especially busy time such as a sale, or a time when your product or service is in high demand.

It’s important at these times that you have all hands on deck and so understandably many small businesses will implement holiday blackouts.

Equally, due to smaller staff numbers, some businesses may stipulate that certain employees’ holiday shouldn’t clash to ensure there is cover in a particular area or department. After all, 3 people could be 50% of your workforce and if they were all off at the same time that would have a big impact on your business.

But aside from these exceptions, there aren’t any other instances when you wouldn’t encourage employees to take annual leave, is there?

Employees aren’t taking their holiday

Recent research from Breathe’s sick report shows that more than half of UK SME employees (54%) aren’t using up their full annual leave entitlement. The research found that the average holiday allowance offered to employees in a small business is a generous 25 days (not including bank holidays).

Companies with 5-9 employees come in below this average, offering 21.5 days in total compared to those at the larger end of the SME bracket with 100-249 employees who offer 25.9 days.

It was also discovered that those aged 18-34 have the lowest average annual leave allowance with 23.9 days and are the most likely to lose any holiday that they don’t book, with 17% saying that they lose any leftover holiday entitlement altogether.

Whilst it’s staggering how many people don’t benefit from their full holiday allowance, what happens with the remainder is also astounding. 26% of respondents roll any remaining allowance over onto the next holiday year, whilst 14% lose it altogether and 13% receive payment in lieu.

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Annual leave is a benefit to businesses

Employees taking annual leave is good for business as well as the individual. Of those that don’t use up their holiday allowance 42% subsequently pull a sickie from work in order to rest.

Founder and Managing Director of HR consultancy HR Revolution, Wendy Read says:

“taking a break, especially a good chunk of time for a holiday, is extremely important for self-preservation but also enhances and refreshes your approach to things. Often I see my team return from a holiday refreshed, energised and reengaged ready to get stuck back in and help the team. It’s a super-positive way of working and should always be encouraged.”

So it’s apparent that the holiday allowance is needed and therefore business owners need to do what they can to encourage employees to take annual leave and reduce the amount of employees with holiday remaining at the end of the year.

Here are 6 ways that you can encourage your employees to take the holiday that is owed to them.

  1. Have a clear policy
  2. Encourage holiday talk in your company
  3. Be happy when employees book time off
  4. Use imagery around the office
  5. Implement rollover limits
  6. Make booking holiday from work easy

By setting out a clear policy and making holiday easy to book, business owners can set a precedent that taking holiday from work is encouraged.

There is a reason that employees are given an annual leave allowance and it is important that business owners are seen as supporting their staff in their need for holiday.

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Posted on 20 June, 2017

By Melissa Jones

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