The stress of taking time off

Why is it so stressful to take time off work – both before and after your holiday? Advice included for employers and employees alike…

We’re all encouraged to book breaks from work and with good reason. Holidays (whether spent at home or away) are necessary to help us unwind and restore our productivity and focus. However, what do you do when the act of taking a break proves stress-inducing?

  • An astonishing 91% of UK employees feel ‘more stressed’ in the days before their break, according to research by Wrike. 92% of German employees feel the same.
  • 43% of the UK group reports feeling ‘very stressed.’
  • This is compared to 42% of French workers who only attest to being ‘slightly stressed’.
  • As for returning from a break, 84% of UK professionals experience stress at this stage.
  • Only 30% of French employees and 29% of Germans report the same.

Why is it so stressful to take time off?

The article discusses the ‘disruptive’ nature of work holidays and how challenging it can be to step away from – or finish – projects to go on leave. This can also leave you worrying about those tasks you’ve got to return to.

These sentiments are supported by ‘‘No time for a holiday?‘, in which we hear that being ‘too busy’ to book time off is the leading reason for people not using their full holiday entitlement.

Advice for employees on minimising your pre- and post-holiday stress:

As we’ve said, breaks are an essential part of your work-life balance.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has now officially recognised burnout as a real condition. It’s defined as: ‘energy depletion, exhaustion, and negativity resulting from chronic workplace stress.’ So you need to take time off, but you need to know how to do it well.

Harvard Business Review has some excellent tips, some of which are summarised below…

  • Build relaxation into daily life, rather than leaving it until your holiday.
  • If you can, prioritise all tasks a few weeks before you go and ask your manager’s opinion on your list. Focus on this list.
  • Let all necessary parties know that you’ll be away (and, where possible, that you won’t be contactable during this time).
  • Handover tasks to anyone who is covering your absence and let your manager/boss know who this will be.
  • Tidy your desk to reduce clutter-associated stress.
  • Prepare your out-of-office.

As for your return, TIME recommends

  • Allocating some space to catch up on emails as soon as possible.
  • Where suitable, asking to work from home on your first day back.
  • And phasing into a ‘manageable work pace and workload’ to reduce overwhelm.
  • Mind additionally suggests: preparing a healthy dinner and breakfast ready for your return.
  • Using your lunch breaks and leaving on time throughout your first week.
  • Prioritising and setting goals for your upcoming tasks.
  • Decluttering your desk (if you missed that from the above list!).
  • Organising a catch-up with whoever took care of your tasks.
  • Focusing your mind on the most enjoyable aspects of your job.

If these tips don’t help, it could be time to look for a new opportunity.

Advice for employers and managers…

The evidence is clear. All businesses need to support their employees to minimise the risk of burnout (and benefit from healthy and productive teams).

  • Keep an eye on the holiday diary. Make sure that people feel able to book breaks and help employees prep for their time off.
  • Reading the above tips will help.
  • As will booking one or more temps to provide cover support. This is especially essential for small and/or highly busy teams where nobody else is available to receive additional tasks.

Please call the office on 01225 313130 to book a temp or email us for support. 



No time for a holiday?

Are you one of the many Brits that’s too overloaded at work to use your holiday entitlement this year? Or perhaps there’s another reason you won’t be booking much time off?

This is something of an annual issue. 44% of British professionals opted not to use their full holiday allowance in 2018 – and almost 1/4 (23%) had 6 or more unused days by the end of the year.

What’s more, a new national survey suggests 54% of people won’t benefit from their full entitlement this year either. So, why are so many employees reluctant to book a break from work?

Why many Brits aren’t using all their holiday allowance…

  • 1/4 of people report that they ‘feel guilty’ to use their contractual allowance, blaming their employer’s culture for this. In addition, respondents identified some more specific reasons that could be at the root of their reluctance…
  • Top of the list was being ‘too busy’ to book time off (38%), followed by:
  • Having ‘nowhere to go’ (23%)
  • Not needing as much allowance (19%)
  • Enjoying their job too much (8%)
  • A disapproving boss (7%)
  • And ‘peer pressure from colleagues’ (5%).

The article also explores some related issues. From the prevalence of unpaid overtime to being contacted by work while on leave.

But science says you need a holiday!

Research conducted on men found that those who took shorter holidays generally ‘worked more and slept less’. The post argues that this is perpetuating stress issues and the risk of burnout.

We’re assuming these findings would also apply to female employees, who last year missed out on even more paid leave than their male counterparts.

Perhaps it’s time to review your work-life balance and whether you’re happy with your current lifestyle. If you’re not, there may be better options for you.

Employers and managers should also look to create a culture that encourages everyone to use their holiday entitlement. Booking a temp to cover annual leave needs is a great place to start. Call us on 01225 313130 to discuss how this could work for your business.



Many more temps to be recruited

UK businesses plan to recruit many more temps, reveals the latest REC JobsOutlook…

On comparing their intentions against last month, employers are:

  • 10 percentage points more likely to recruit temporary workers within the short-term. In terms of REC data, this means within the next 3 months.
  • 9 percentage points more likely to recruit temps across the medium-term (4 to 12 month period).

Why this may surprise some:

You could think this is a mark of increased business confidence. However, companies report a further reduced confidence in the nation’s ‘economic prospects’.

In fact, this particular reading has now reached a record low – and currently sits 57 percentage points below its June 2016 findings.

Plans to recruit permanent staff have fallen by 1 percentage point for the short-term period and by 3 percentage points for the medium-term period. Although, both ratings remain positive overall: with a net balance of +16 and +19 respectively.

That said, businesses worry they won’t find the right temps:

  • 34% (1/3) of employers express concern about finding enough skilled candidates to fill their temporary roles.
  • 46% of businesses additionally worry about obtaining permanent employees.

These figures are less surprising when you consider that the UK has achieved record unemployment rates, with less than 4% of the population unemployed.

So, there’s great news for temps. But is temping for you?

Temporary work offers multiple benefits to employees. These include:

  • A flexible solution for those looking for work for a specific period – whether ad hoc assignments or longer-term bookings.
  • The chance to develop new skills and experiences and enhance your CV in the process.
  • A deeper insight into working cultures and local businesses. Helping you work out your priorities for permanent roles if this is a future goal.
  • Regular pay: you’ll be paid weekly (following those weeks worked), rather than monthly.
  • You’ll still accrue holiday pay, further enhancing the flexibility of your role.

Remember, there is no guarantee of finding regular temporary work, even though this is the case for many. To this end, it’s not recommended to leave a permanent role to temp unless you’ve got the financial backing to do so!

You can search for temporary and contract jobs using our job search dropdown tool. Due to the nature of temporary work, roles can be filled swiftly. So, it’s also worth emailing your CV along with a cover email detailing your availability. Here’s what else you should include

To book a temp, please call the office on 01225 313130 or email us to discuss your requirements.