14 Aug 2020

Why employers should be encouraging workers to take annual leave to support mental wellbeing




With the August Bank holiday coming up, as well as many people having had to delay holidays due to the pandemic, Adrian Lewis, director at Activ Absence, is urging employers to remind workers about the importance of taking annual leave for their mental wellbeing.

Recently the NHS Confederation[i] highlighted that doctors are seeing a rise in people reporting severe mental health difficulties, following a more than 30% drop in referrals to mental health services during peak. It’s predicted this rise could mean demand outstrips pre-coronavirus levels – by as much as 20%.

Adrian Lewis, director at Activ Absence, says, “The coronavirus lockdown and subsequent uncertainty in the economy and jobs market is having a big impact on people’s mental health. Now more than ever employers should be ensuring that workers have some down time and encourage them to take their holidays to support their mental health.

“During lockdown some workers had to postpone holidays, and with quarantine rules being introduced across Europe others may decide to wait until later in the year.  However we’d encourage employers to remind workers to take leave as this can have a positive impact on their mental wellbeing and mean they come back refreshed and motivated.”

In June, the Office of National Statistics[ii] revealed that more than two-thirds of adults in the UK (69%) reported feeling somewhat or very worried about the effect Covid-19 is having on their life. The most common issues affecting wellbeing are worry about the future (63%) and feeling stressed or anxious (56%).

Adrian adds, “It’s important for people to re-charge their batteries to help manage stress and anxiety; but it can be a challenge for employers to manage holiday requests with many workers still working remotely. They need to deal with requests quickly even if employees are working at home and to avoid holiday clashes so the workplace isn’t left short staffed.

“Unfortunately emails and paper-based systems are inefficient and time-consuming. Investing in cloud-based absence management software to manage holiday leave, as well as sick leave and other absences can really help employers have real-time visibility over their entire workforce, wherever they are located. It will flag up workers who haven’t taken a lot of leave, prompting managers to send out reminders and show that they are keen for employees to take their full entitlement.

“The system also highlights workers who have taken a lot of time off sick. This could indicate stress or other mental health concerns, and gives managers the opportunity to start a conversation and address what is going on, nipping it in the bud early or directing workers to support.

“As we move through this pandemic and adapt to the changes it has made to our working lives, using technology such as absence management software can help streamline processes and enable businesses to focus on supporting workers wellbeing and getting through the economic downturn,” adds Mr Lewis.

For more information on absence management software visit www.activabsence.co.uk

[i] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-53742121

[ii] https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthandwellbeing/bulletins/coronavirusandthesocialimpactsongreatbritain/5june2020