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We Just Can't Unplug: 2 in 5 Employees Only Take Up To Half Their Annual Leave

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated 14 May 2020
|3 min read

It’s that time of year: summer holiday season. Whether you’re hopping on a cruise or jetting to a picturesque island or even hiking through the woods, a new Glassdoor study reveals that there’s a strong chance you’re going to bring your work laptop and you’ll actually do work.

Two in five UK employees polled (40 percent) reported taking a maximum of just half their annual leave entitlement during the last holiday year, with the average employee taking just 62 percent of their allowance. Of those that did use their allowance, 23 percent regularly checked emails, and 15 percent continued working through fear of getting behind and the consequences of not hitting their targets.

The online survey conducted for Glassdoor in April among over 2,000 full or part-time employed adults in the UK, analysed attitudes to working on holiday, percentage of holiday allowance actually taken along with how employees dealt with various issues while trying to take a break from work.  

Of employees who received paid holiday, 43 percent took between 91-100 percent of their allowance in the last full holiday year, while 13 percent reported taking just 20 percent or less of their eligible time off. A combined total of 40 percent took up to half their annual leave allowance across the year. When broken down by age groups, young workers were the least likely to take their full allowance, with only 35 percent of 18-24 year olds and 40 percent of 25-34 year olds taking between 91-100 percent of their allowance in their last full holiday year.

“Employees need to have candid conversations with their managers about how they can achieve a better work-life balance and book their remaining time now to avoid burn out further down the line”, said John Lamphiere, Glassdoor’s Managing Director, EMEA. “The fact that 40 percent of us take a maximum of just half our holiday allowance and a significant amount feel they need to work while being away is not a good long-term solution and will only result in employees who may want to jump ship for greener pastures. Take a day to plan out your holidays, create a schedule which works for you and your employer, then stick to it. If you don't do it now, it may never happen.”

If you’re planning your summer holiday, try hard to completely disconnect. Here’s some quick advice for how to achieve a work-free holiday:

  1. Put in for your holiday as soon as possible. Once your request is approved, tell you team and make it clear that you will be unreachable.
  2. Be proactive before your holiday by discussing a back-up plan with your manager. Be prepared with several ideas about who can do what responsibilities while you are away.
  3. Craft a helpful “Out of Office” reply. Make sure that those who email you while you’re on holiday have resources and access to someone else on your team who can help in your absence.
  4. Ensure your back-up person is primed for success. Plan adequate time for your back-up to spend time with you at your desk and with your manager. Your goal is to have you and your manager feel confident that your back-up can be depended upon to get the job done. The better prepared your back-up is, the easier it will be for you to relax while away.

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