It’s that time of year again when the summer period begins and we all take some time out from work to enjoy a well-earned break, or so you would think. The realisation is that actually many of us – for one reason or another – fail to take all of our annual leave each year. According to a recent study, a fifth of us hard working Brits are failing to. Despite these findings, another survey found two thirds of bosses said they have a good work/life balance! I have to say I find these statistics quite surprising – surely more individuals welcome a break from work?

Most businesses today recognise the importance of employees taking a break and using all of their annual leave, ensuring individuals are able to maintain a good work/life balance. As a result of taking frequent breaks, employees are happier and more productive. With that in mind, it makes me wonder why so many people actively choose not to take all of their holiday entitlement.

Expectation: Individuals often feel there is an expectation amongst the workplace to be seen to be working through their holidays. Whilst this might be the case for some in more demanding roles, it isn’t always a necessity and shouldn’t deter employees from taking their full holiday entitlement. If – for peace of mind if nothing else – people feel the need to be contactable during holiday, utilising appropriate tools or technologies that enable access to work, should be considered. By having the option to join a conference call from the beach or amend a document from the pool bar, you have peace of mind and your colleagues know they can reach you, if absolutely necessary!

Responsibility: Often it can be down to the job role placing a high level of responsibility with no immediate replacement available. Individuals are then often required to work throughout holidays to ensure business operations run smoothly – this is particularly the case for smaller businesses with a low number of employees.

Career: With competition for jobs strife, I am not surprised to see people refusing to take holiday however with the advanced tools that are available, I expect we will see more individuals taking holiday whilst monitoring work emails and the like from their holiday destination, even if that is the comfort of their own home!

It is inevitable that due to the reasons outlined above, some individuals will avoid taking their holiday entitlement. However with most knowledge workers now owning a smartphone, tablet, laptop or all three, we are increasingly connected to the rest of the world, wherever we are. I expect this era of connectivity – utilising devices and technology to remain connected to the office, colleagues or clients – will help to encourage individuals to use their holiday and spend more time away from the office.

By having the measures in place that enable you to respond to an emergency, important request, or even just to meet an immovable deadline, you shouldn’t have a problem in welcoming your holiday entitlement. By taking a break from work, individuals tend to feel more motivated and efficient than if they were to plough through. Needless to say, I expect we will begin to see an increased demand for flexible working tools as those individuals that can’t quite let go of work seek to find a balance and work flexibly during this period of annual leave.

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