Holidays are a time to get out of the office to relax, unwind and spend time with friends and family, whether that be sunning yourself on a beach in the South of France or knee-deep in mud at Glastonbury. However, a recent survey carried out by the Institute of Leadership & Management revealed that a staggering 41% of managers in the UK didn’t take the annual leave that they were owed last year.

This was despite the fact that that almost a third (30%) of those people entirely lost those holiday days with over a third (35%) of these people – almost one in 20 (4%) of those surveyed overall – losing five days or more.

Charles Elvin CEO of the Institute of Leadership & Management, said: “Holidays are vitally important for maintaining a happy, healthy workforce so it’s a concern to hear one in 20 managers telling us that they lost a week or more of their annual leave allowance last year. Workers come back from leave refreshed, relaxed and revitalised which is ultimately great for business, so it should be a top priority for employers to make sure their employees use it rather than lose it.”

The same survey revealed that 40% of managers felt there was definite room for improvement in their work / life balance with a further 15% stating theirs was poor.

While the majority of workers (63%) said that their boss was largely supportive of them achieving a good work/life balance, one in five (19%) said that their boss was not as supportive in this area as they would like and 15% said that they did not feel their boss was supportive of them achieving a good work/life balance.

Charles continued: “We know that work life balance has a direct impact on performance. It’s important that workers feel they have time to switch off and a holiday is a big part of that. Managers have an important role to play in ensuring workers take the leave they are entitled to, so this summer I’m urging them to look at what hasn’t been taken and encourage their teams to take it.”

And that’s not the end of the story either. In 2013 managers told ILM that even when they were taking holidays they weren’t necessarily relaxing. Over half of managers (54%) felt the need to work while on annual leave, with 70% stating that they were reading and responding to emails whilst on holiday.

Charles said: “Smartphones are amazing and have revolutionised the way we work, but they do have some unanticipated side effects. Managers are telling us they are finding it increasingly difficult to just switch off and leave the office behind but it’s really important that they switch off and make the most of their time off work to fully relax, reflect and unwind and return to the office with renewed energy, fresh ideas and perspective.”

ILM tips for managers

  1. Encourage – Communicate to employees that the company wants everyone to take the leave they are entitled to and encourage them to book it.
  2. Follow up – check the annual leave your staff are still owed this year and remind them to book it off.
  3. Ask them to switch off – Tell your employees to ditch the BlackBerry whilst they’re on leave. If they really must take their phone they should be disciplined and keep access to email to a minimum being contactable only in an emergency or at set times i.e.: for an hour each day.