Holidays are vital for a healthy workplace

A healthy workplace is vital, and HR has a major role to play in creating the best conditions for staff.

Staff ill health can cost the UK around £14 billion a year according to the CBI’s 2013 Sickness Absence survey, and the CIPD 2015 Absence Management survey reckoned the average annual median cost of absence per employee was £554.

And these figures may not take into account indirect costs, such as a drop in employee morale, loss of productivity and reduced customer service; things that can have a very real effect on any business.

Ensuring that your people take all the holiday they are entitled to is just one way in which to ensure employees keep healthy and happy.

Under the Working Time Regulations 1998, workers (including part-timers and most agency staff) have the right to 5.6 weeks’ paid leave each year.

However, according to research commissioned by Elance-Odesk, an online marketplace which connects businesses and freelancers, British workers are subject to an extra 6.5 extra working hours each week because companies don’t prepare properly for the holiday season.

So how can you prepare for holidays?

By this time of year, you should have a reasonable picture of when staff will be taking their long summer vacations, and have checked for any potential clashes.

If you don’t, do make sure that everyone is aware of the holiday request procedures and how much leave they have remaining.

  • Once you have holidays in place, ensure that your teams are aware of what recurring tasks need to be carried out over the period when you have people away, and manage how those tasks will be redistributed and what deadlines are looming.
  • Find out whether extra cover will be needed to ensure your operation continues to run smoothly, and allow time for training temporary staff if necessary.

Depending on the size and nature of your organisation, it may not be able to cope if too many people are away at the same time. If this is the case, the individuals must be informed as early as possible about the situation and how it will be handled.

Likewise, if you need people working over bank holidays, plenty of notice is needed. You could offer incentives such as reduced office hours and time off in lieu.

Before they go on holiday, make sure that your people set up appropriate out-of-office messages for email and phones, and provide a detailed handover document if required.

Encourage staff to take holidays

However challenging it may be to sort out holidays, especially in smaller teams, it is imperative for the morale and wellbeing of your employees.

Not all holidays need to be long ones, though. Encourage staff to take short breaks, which will allow them to return to work relaxed and invigorated, in between any longer vacations they may take.

If staff aren’t taking their holidays, look at the reasons why, and what you can do to help. Is their workload too heavy, are there too many project deadlines, are you short-staffed or do some Managers make it difficult for staff to take their holidays?

Automated holiday management systems

If you have various staff working shifts or part-time hours it can be a challenge to keep track of what time off they accrue.

You could consider a cloud-based personnel software system, such as Staff Squared, which can manage all your employee data and files, and let your staff request holidays using an intuitive calendar. Find out more at Staff2.

For help with your human resources requirements, issues and activities, please contact us for a no obligation discussion. Embrace HR Limited, based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, helps SMEs who do not have their own HR departments, or those who need HR support from time to time.  Email us or phone Cecily on 07767 308 717.