Even if a trip to an exotic island isn’t in the books this year, using ALL your holiday entitlement is still a good idea.

Annual leave is one of the most coveted job benefits, and yet many workers don’t get to enjoy all of them. Even before the pandemic, statistics were painting the picture of a burnt-out workforce that prioritised the company to the detriment of leisure time: in the US, a 2019 study found that 55% of employees do not use all of their paid holiday time, and, in the UK, only one in three workers take their full holiday entitlement. This is especially important for support staff because they are always on and have schedules dictated by their bosses to a large degree.

The pandemic might sink these percentages to record lows. The past year has brought significant lifestyle changes, and many workers have decided to take fewer holiday days. The reasons vary from financial concerns (I don’t have money to go on holiday this year) to COVID-related concerns (I don’t feel comfortable traveling yet/My favorite travel destination is on the red list).

Even though the worst has passed, planning a holiday in 2021 is still tricky: vaccines aren’t being deployed the same around the world, countries have different entry requirements, and, after one year in quarantine, traveling may feel uncomfortable.

But just because you cannot go abroad or are in lockdown doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use all your holiday entitlement. Many employees feel guilty taking time off and staying at home but doing so comes with great benefits for your mental health, personal life, and work performance.

Holidays are good for your physical and mental health
Just because you can’t or won’t travel abroad doesn’t mean you couldn’t use a rest. According to research from the Society for Human Resource Management, nearly half of American workers feel physically and mentally exhausted at the end of the workday but don’t take time off because they don’t have travel plans.

However, the sacrifice might not be worth it, researchers argue. Working without pause and neglecting leisure can lead to stress, anxiety, depression, burnout, and ultimately all these things will also take a toll on your physical health. Taking time off and staying at home might seem like a “waste of time”, but your body needs a few days where you don’t have to worry about clients and timesheets.

Holidays can strengthen the bond with family and friends
Taking all your annual leave also benefits your personal life. If, in the past year, if you’ve spent a lot of time working from home and the barriers between work and family became blurred, taking a few days off and giving your loved ones your full attention will help you restore work-life balance. Don’t worry if you can’t travel abroad: a day trip, a weekend getaway to a local attraction, or just spending time at home together still helps.

Holidays boost your productivity
Going on holiday when there’s still a lot of work to do might sound counterproductive, but it’s actually a benefit for your company. After a certain point, pushing yourself to work decreases your productivity, affects your mood, and alters your problem-solving skills, so you need to take a step back, recharge your batteries, and regain perspective. When you return to the office, you’ll have more energy to tackle challenges and think creatively.

It’s also really important to encourage your staff to take holidays. If you’re then in a position where your employees are overloaded with work, we’re happy to help provide you with an amazing temp.