Australians love a good holiday. It’s the perfect time to take the kids to the beach, have a BBQ with your parents and generally take a well-deserved break from reality somewhere exotic. Whether its a long weekend, annual leave or the great Australian ‘Sickie’ we really enjoy a day off. My lovely wife informs me a ‘sickie’ is now called a ‘mental health day’. Definitely has a more legitimate feel to it!
Time off is not a bad thing
Our media outlets tend to look for perceived negative ramifications of extra days off. How much mental health days or extras public holidays will cost the economy in lost productivity or overtime payments. However, I really believe this is an extraordinarily narrow view of the situation. Sure, if we look at that one day in isolation then down time costs money but that simply isn’t the way the world works. Days off, especially periods of annual leave in excess of a week offer a number of benefits to both the employee and the business they work for. Taking the day is actually a great idea!
Benefits to employees
Time away from work allows your team members to spend time with family and get some well-deserved rest. They return to work more focused, enthusiastic and satisfied with the balance they have been work and family. In turn this results in a more productive working environment. If you allow your employees to become tired and burnt out they are far less engaged.
Benefits to employers
Employers who actively encourage team members to take a holiday are creating a more productive and engaging working environment and will experience higher staff retention rates.
Regular consumption of leave balances is also a cost saving measure for the employer. Annual leave accumulates as a liability in terms of hours, not dollars. As time goes by your employee’s hourly rate will rise. Unpaid annual leave which is allowed to accumulate for a number of financial years will eventually be paid out at a higher rate than would have been the case if it was taken during the year it related to. A large annual leave balance is also a risk to business working capital. If a team member resigns with a significant number of weeks (or months) in their annual leave bank the business is left scrambling to find a considerable sum of money to meet the required payout figure.
From a tax perspective it is also important to remember that while the annual leave accumulated by your staff is an expense on the profit and loss statement in the year it relates to it is not tax deductible until the amount is actually paid to the employee.
Overcoming the Stigma
So, why don’t we take a holiday more often? I truly believe the heart of the issue is the stigma we have allowed to creep into our working environment around taking a day off. There is a perception that if you need time off you are weak and letting the rest of the team down. That outlook needs to change and it has to start at the top. If your employees see you, as the business owner, taking time away from work to spend with your family they will be far more comfortable doing it themselves.
You should also ensure that you actively encourage your team to take a holiday, particularly team members who are accumulating a lot of unused leave and clearly have not had a day off in some time. It’s about shifting the organization’s culture and you’re in the best position to drive this.
In Summary – take a holiday!
Employers who fail to encourage their staff to take regular days off will experience lower staff engagement and retention, higher cost of employment and delayed tax benefits. On the other hand, employers who insist on regular days off are developing a more engaging, satisfying and productive working environment as well as saving their business money in the long run.
Which of these two employers do you want to be? I think we all know the answer to that!
Still not sure? Call a travel agent!
Hawaii looks good, you can thank me later.