How to encourage your employees to take annual leave

By Wiona Teo

Ever since the shift to remote work, many employees find themselves being pushed to the limit, as the boundaries between work and home become blurred. Achieving a perfect work-life balance seems like a far-fetched dream with busy schedules and unmet deadlines. 


“We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to do’ list. 

- Michelle Obama


Organizations that enable employees to achieve work-life balance are deemed particularly motivating and supportive to employees, which makes them engaged. Employees with positive employee experience - whose needs for work-life balance are achieved, tend to stay with their employer and are more productive. Fostering employees’ well-being could be one of the ways to build a high-performing team.

For those employees who devote their all into an organization, it can be easy for them to lose sight of their need for relaxation. Therefore, it is up to the leaders to intervene and help employees realize that their mental health and well-being are just as important as the valuable work they do.

In this article, find out why it’s important to encourage employees to take time off and discover ways to support your employees, so they can switch off and truly relax whilst they are away.


The importance of encouraging employees to take annual leaves

We all need to strike a balance between work and rest, which is even more important in today's culture of overworking. Remote workers feel the need to be seen as productive, so they are putting in more hours than normal to multitask, as well as making constructive use of their time at home.

From our findings, we learned that the number of employees at risk of burnout has significantly increased between 2020 and 2021. The youngest demographics (Gen Z and millennials) are struggling the most, with emotions at work like:

  • Exhausted (43%)

  • Stressed (39%)

  • Under excessive pressure (16%)


Overworking for a long period of time can impact employees’ energy levels, mental health and overall well-being, essentially, leading to burnout and losing interest in their job.


Practical steps to get employees to take their time off

1. Lead by example 

This is to all business leaders and managers, start taking your own leave too. When employees see that their leaders are taking annual leave/time off, they are more likely to become comfortable with following suit. Build a positive company culture that encourages employees to take time off for their mental health.


2. Send a reminder to your staff to take their annual leaves early

Have an open conversation with your employees about their unused annual leave. Let them know how many days of paid time off they have, so they can plan for trips or other activities in advance as possible.

In case they are worried about workload, give them assurance that the it will be managed well even in heir absence. This way, employees will feel more encouraged to take time off and relax.


3. Show genuine interest in their plans

Be genuinely interested and excited for your employees when they apply for leave. Provide opportunities for them to share stories about what they are doing or are working on. Small chats like these will help employees to feel more connected and improve their overall engagement.


4. Build systems to distribute workload

One common reason why employees do not take leave is because of their work timeline getting delayed and new tasks continuing to add up during their leave. Leaders need to work with employees to find a suitable solution, perhaps creating a system where employees do not have to be there for ‘the show to go on’. For instance, using automation to streamline some processes. 

Having healthy and happy employees who take time off will do wonders for your company culture and profits. If you are keen to read more about employee well-being, click here.


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Tags: Employee Experience