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Help employees de-stress and enjoy their holiday

3rd Aug 2017
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A summer holiday is the ideal time to escape work and refresh mind, body and soul.  In reality many employees worry about what’s happening at work and their workload mounting while they are away.  And yet we know that switching off from work is critical to good mental and physical health.  Put simply a business can’t sustain high performance unless employees periodically switch off and recharge their batteries.


Here are Munroe Sutton’s tips to help your employees return from holiday refreshed and raring to go.


1. Insist staff take their holiday

At a national level the average employee fails to use six days of paid leave each year.  This matters; a study by Ernst and Young found an eight per cent improvement in employee’s performance ratings for every ten hours of time taken off work.  Encourage staff to take their full holiday quota, keep track of leave taken and remind serial offenders to take time out.  Take time to wish employees a happy holiday in person and remind them to unwind and leave the office behind. 


2. Wind down a week before holiday. 

Many employees find themselves cramming the work they will miss while on holiday into the week leading up to their break, working long hours, weekends and all night to achieve this.  Going on holiday a gibbering wreck is counter productive.  Help employees to wind down the week before holiday by encouraging a steady handover process and reminding the entire team that everyone is entitled to a holiday.


3. Limit but don’t ban mobile devices

Far from freeing us from the office, mobile devices can mentally tether employees to their desk 24/7, if usage goes unchecked.  A recent study by Adobe of 3,000 UK workers found three quarters are regularly required to work outside of their official hours.  For others, the current economic climate means they feel less secure in their jobs and technology enables them to work longer hours to compensate.  You might think an outright ban on checking emails or taking work calls would be the answer but some people find not being able to check their email just as stressful.  Make clear to employees that there is no requirement to check in on work activity while on holiday and encourage them to avoid doing so, but if they can’t abstain to only indulge a couple of times a week.


4. Stop employees thinking about work on holiday

Employees can sabotage your best efforts to encourage them to unwind by thinking about work on holiday.  Typical worries include an unfinished “to do” list, unresolved work issues or dwelling on what could have been done better or differently, yet worrying about work doesn’t actually get it done.  To counter this give employees’ explicit permission to mentally check out of work while they are away and provide reassurance they will not fall behind on their workload while away.

5. Make the post holiday chill last

Encourage employees to strike a balance throughout the year between working hard and switching off at the end of the working day.  Instill an unwinding ritual at the end of each day to help employees slow down and mentally relax.  Encourage them to only do jobs that are easy to complete or prepare a to-do list for the next day, and establish regular breaks during the day to prevent them going into overdrive.


Employers can fall into the trap of assuming employees will automatically relax and recharge on holiday.  For a very small investment of time, employers can ensure their employees switch off on holiday and as a result, are likely to see increased productivity results and better health throughout the year. 

Robert Malvasi is Head of Business Development for employee health benefits provider Munroe Sutton.



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