Most people look forward to their Christmas holidays. This year, many offices will be closed in between Christmas and New Year, giving some UK workers up to 10 days off, while others will just be taking the bare minimum of holiday days.
However long your Christmas holiday, it’s vital to use this time to properly ‘switch off’, yet many British workers do not take their full holiday entitlement. Many people also end up checking emails on their holidays, taking calls from colleagues or even doing pieces of work from home. The negative effects of doing this regularly are not just short-term inconveniences; it can have much bigger repercussions.
Many people are not aware of the importance of taking a proper break from work. Not taking enough time off work can have negative impacts on the mental health of employees – those working non-stop may often end up suffering from ‘burnout’. This means increased stress and anxiety, which will result in a drop in performance and productivity.
Similarly, a lack of a proper holiday can also mean an increased amount of sick leave taken by employees. Workers who don’t take a break can end up making themselves unwell and then require time off for sickness absence further down the line.
Tips for switching off
- Step away from the technology: During the working week it’s easy to become a slave to your mobile phone or computer and be always ready to receive new messages, emails or updates. Whilst it’s usual for us to receive lots of messages from friends and family during the festive period, try to avoid looking at work-related emails for the days on which you’re actually ‘on holiday’. Don’t always have your phone with you to see whether you can get some separation.
- Really revel in the time you get to spend with friends and family: For many, the festive season is the one time of year when family and friends get to spend time with each other. Really focus on the people you’re with. Be fully in the moment, and enjoy the fact that you don’t need to be juggling work commitments and time with your loved ones.
- Plan some fun things to do. The greatest threat to fully switching off is boredom. By making sure that you have something to look forward to each day, you’re much more likely to get into the swing of your time off and really start to enjoy it. Or maybe there are things you’ve been meaning to do for a while but never get around to, like putting photographs into photo albums, or decluttering a room.
- Don’t rush. We get so used to rushing from one place to another during the working week, that it can be hard to drop the habit when we’re on a break. Try to give yourself lots of time to get things done so that you don’t have to race around from one task to the other.
A lack of employees taking proper time off can also mean a higher staff turnover for the company, as not being able to switch off can leave employees feeling undervalued and overworked by their employers. Ensuring that employees understand that your organisation encourages a healthy work/life balance, and making sure everyone is fully aware of your holiday policy, is key to ensure healthy, happy staff. Unless there are specific urgent reasons why staff need to be contactable whilst on holiday, employers should try to lead by example and ensure that everybody refrains from emails and work over the festive period.
For many employees, unwinding in the evenings or at weekends just isn’t enough when working over an extended period of time. This is why the Christmas holidays are so important – they provide us with time to properly ‘switch off’, relax, rest our brains and return after Christmas feeling revitalized and motivated to tackle a new year at work.
Anyone looking for advice and support about an existing case of sickness absence, or about issues that may result in sickness absence, can call the Fit for Work advice line on 0800 023 6235 (0800 032 6233 – Cymraeg) or visit the Fit for Work website. There is a separate service running in Scotland (0800 019 2211).