21/11/2022

Benefits of leave on Employee Wellbeing

By: Drake WellbeingHub

Benefits of leave on Employee Wellbeing 

As we fast approach the holiday season, it’s a good time to start thinking about taking some much-deserved leave and recouping after what has been another challenging year. Many workplaces have different policies on leave. While some organisations shut down over the New Year period, others will operate business-as-usual, whereas some will operate with skeleton staff but leave it to the employees’ discretion to take time off or work through. Whichever way your workplace operates, it’s important to prioritise your wellbeing and ensure that you’re recharging your mind, body and soul each year. Here’s why! 

"Having breaks from work where we detach and switch off physically, emotionally and mentally is very important for our own wellbeing and also our job and career," says Libby Sander, assistant professor of organisational behaviour at Bond University. When we take time off, away from work, we’re able to fully recoup, reenergise and ensure that we’re able to perform optimally upon our return to work.  

According to a Gallup study, people who "always make time for regular holidays" had a 68.4 score on the Gallup-Heathway's Wellbeing Index, versus a 51.4 Wellbeing score for less frequent travellers. One study found that three days after a holiday, subjects' physical complaints, quality of sleep and mood had improved significantly in comparison to before their holiday. Five weeks later, the gains were still present, especially in those who had more personal time and overall satisfaction during their holiday.  

According to a study published in the Wisconsin Medical Journal, women who take holidays twice or more each year are less likely to become depressed, tense or tired. Researchers have found that ‘the odds of being depressed increased as the frequency of vacation decreased’. There is a close link between taking time off and lowering symptoms of depression and anxiety.  

This same Medical Journal study also found that from the women in the study, those took regular holidays reported happier relationships. Many studies have shown the mental health benefits of taking leave and the positive impact that it can have on your personal life, particularly with your relationships. It’s not always easy spending time with loved ones when you’re busy juggling a full workload, long working hours, life admin, family duties and so on. Relationships can suffer as a result of this. Holidays are a great time to reinvest in your relationships and give them the attention and energy that they both need and deserve. 

Don't have the funds to go on holidays? Fear not! You don’t need to go on a luxury cruise or international trip to reap the benefits of a holiday. You could simply pitch a tent or opt to go somewhere local for just a few days. The most important thing to remember is the need to “switch off”. Turn your work emails off, minimise screentime, remove distracting mobile apps, connect with nature and spend time with your family and friends. Try to find a nice balance between rest and novel activities – both are equally important. 

Many organisations urge their workforce to take leave each year and it's easy to understand why! On an organisational level, taking leave can improve morale – happier employees lead to happier teams. It sees a reduction in absenteeism and increases employee retention and most importantly, increases productivity levels. The benefits of holidays are so advantageous that organisations such as Netflix and Virgin have introduced unlimited paid leave. This means that employees cannot “bank” holiday leave but rather take what they want, when they want. It appears to be a win-win for employer and employee! 

It’s not always easy to make time for holidays and commit to days or weeks away from work. You may need the extra work due to financial reasons or feel that you’re letting your boss or your employer down if you take time away from your role. The reality is, in order to perform optimally and sustain that level of performance, time away from work is vital. Humans are not designed to withstand constant stress and pressure without time to decompress, destress and recoup. This holiday season, take a break and plan something special – you deserve it! 

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