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Employers need to brace themselves for the holiday rush

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After two years’ of being cooped up at home, 2022 could be the year employees finally make full use of their holiday leave – so managers need to be prepared.

Could there be something different about 2022? For the first time in what seems like a while, the prospect of foreign travel suddenly feels extremely realistic. Late-winter blues have the very real prospect of being banished, as travel opens up, restrictions are lifted and holiday plans can start to be made (touch wood), with much more certainty. 

Are your staff maximising their annual leave this year?

The timing of this couldn’t be better. Thanks to the way the calendar falls this year (down, in no small part, to this summer’s Platinum Jubilee), savvy staff have the ability to supercharge their recuperation periods – including bagging nine consecutive days off for just three days worth of actual booked leave in June, as well as another nine days’ worth for just four days’ leave around the May Bank Holiday. It could all mean, and for the first time in years, employees actually take ‘all’ of their leave. 

As we all know, taking time off is essential for maintaining people’s sense of health and wellbeing. Science already tells us that working 55 hours (or more) a week continuously is associated with a 35% higher risk of stroke and presents a 17% higher risk of dying from heart disease than a workweek of 35 to 40 hours. A holiday resets our bodies by reducing stress, blood pressure and encourages us to get more sleep and rest. Workplace scientists also tell us that when people feel rested, they have more zest, feel more energised, and have a greater sense of engagement. All of which is likely to make them more happy and productive.

But if unprepared, all this pent-up demand for time off could catch employers by surprise. Britons have historically been found wanting when it comes to taking the time off they are entitled to. Some 57 million days’ worth of annual leave went unclaimed in 2020 alone – the equivalent of seven days per worker, per year. Glassdoor recently found that some 40% of staff take less than half of their annual allowance. While employers shouldn’t ever rely on leave not being taken, it’s probably safe to assume that with wellbeing known to have taken a plunge for many in recent times, staff are likely to want to book their full allotted amount.

Do you know who's off and when?

All of which makes the need for employers to know who is going to be off, for how long, and when, all the more essential. The fight for who gets those prized bank holiday boosts will be just one of the issues employers will need to face. Others include whether cover might be needed if too many are off at once; which projects might require more time to complete as a result of staff being on holiday, and whether a minimum ‘skeleton’ staff will be maintained at all times (especially if un-planned absence also throws a curve-ball).

It’s clear that as holiday requests start to flood in, firms must be able to track who is requesting it, when they’re requesting it, and where that leaves staffing levels at key points in the year. It might only be then, that clashes emerge, and policies for allocating who takes time off can be accommodated. 

A proper staff holiday request and management system is the very minimum your organisations need. They ensure their staff get the holiday off they deserve and also makes sure the organisation isn’t left short. So if you’re not able to plot where your holiday peaks are likely to be year, perhaps you’d better start planning some system upgrades now. This year won’t be a holiday if managing others’ becomes a grind.

Sort your employee annual leave out pronto with Appogee Leave. Try for 14 days free or book a demo with a member of our friendly team to see how our leave management solution can help you stay on track with staff time off in 2022 and beyond.