Taking the stress out of taking a holiday

By: Kate Cooper

Date: 7 August 2017

Taking the stress out of taking a holidayWith summer holiday season well under way, office chat turns to sunshine, beaches and pina coladas. But the truth is that it's getting harder and harder for us to switch off from work once we are away.

The latest survey by the Institute of Leadership & Management shows that many managers dream of holidays in remote corners of the world where they can escape the "always on" culture.

Our poll of 200 business leaders and managers found that 56% say taking a holiday in a remote location without wi-fi connection would leave them feeling relieved. What we also found was that the holiday season is actually a time of additional stress for many managers:

  • 78% of managers identified staff holiday clashes as the hardest aspect of managing staff over the summer;
  • 46% of managers say they stay late at work the night before going on holiday;
  • 37% say they check their work emails every day during their holiday to avoid a backlog of work when they return.

When it comes to going on holiday, managers need a break as much anybody else. The ability to switch off from work is never easy but it is crucial for managers to take uninterrupted time off during the busy year.

Checking emails daily may bring relief and lessen the burden of returning to a huge backlog, but we need to be mindful of how long we take to do this - is it really necessary to open every single email?

Staff wellbeing

Stress and burnout are workplace issues that can happen to any member of staff, so time off to spend with family, friends or even a solo adventure is beneficial to the wellbeing of both the individual and the company.

Managers can also lead by example and ensure they and their staff don't come back from holiday to an unmanageable workload, quickly negating the renewed energy and enthusiasm the holiday has helped to generate.

Build in a day to catch up on emails - 32% of managers we polled said that would help. It's also worth delegating responsibility for decision-making in someone's absence - create a culture where colleagues support each other's time off knowing it will be reciprocated and allow increased flexibility around the holiday season. All this can help you maximise the benefits of taking holidays, creating a happier and refreshed team.

Copyright © 2017 Kate Cooper, head of research, policy and standards at the Institute of Leadership & Management.