There’s a big difference between organisations who offer up great annual leave policies in theory, while fostering an unspoken cultural stigma around taking time off – and companies who proudly tout their annual leave package, while building its acceptance into the fabric of their cultures.
Two-thirds (65%) of employees reported that they hear nothing, mixed messages, or discouraging messages about taking time off from managers, while 80% said if they felt fully supported and encouraged by their boss, they would be likely to take more time off.
The most generous annual leave policies are meaningless if the culture does not support taking time off. A culture that supports annual leave starts with managerial support. Because managers may be overburdened themselves, annual leave should be a topic that is discussed openly in 1-1 meetings and performance reviews.
Here’s how to support holiday transparency to build a culture that supports annual leave:
1.) Encourage company leaders to mention their own holidays and publicly encourage others to take theirs as well.
2.) Position managers’ holidays as growth opportunities for staff.
3.) When planning performance goals and projects, build in annual leave considerations. Simply asking, “Who is going to be on holiday this quarter?” can help set expectations for a project team.
4.) Provide guidelines for the notification time required before annual leave, particularly for longer absences.
5.) Help employees to plan for annual leave coverage, and encourage them to support colleagues during their holiday.
6.) Set clear expectations around answering email and phone calls on holiday. Encourage employees to set out-of-office replies or use an app such as Thrive Away, which deletes emails received during annual leave.
7.) Plan for re-entry. Returning to hundreds of emails and a burgeoning task list is no fun. Anticipate the amount of time employees will need to catch up, and schedule projects accordingly.
Culture Tip: Host a series of employee focus groups to find out how employees perceive the current annual leave policy and determine how they can be supported for more effective annual leave planning.