Are you looking forward to your summer holiday? Or perhaps you are back at work and feeling miserable now that it is over. In years gone by the trend was to take an annual two week holiday over the summer. According to research by British Airways, 69% of Brits no longer take a two week break. The Office of National Statistics had similar findings reporting that in the last 20 years those that do so has dropped by a third. The over 65s are most likely to go away for two weeks. So why is this and is it a positive change?
I can’t afford to take time off work
Take my situation as an example, running your own business means that you have to be working in order to earn. It can be hard to justify holiday particularly if you are providing a service to clients. You don’t want to lose income or for clients to go elsewhere in your absence. Time off has a big impact and very often the reality is that you are spending far more whilst earning little.
Whilst for those who are employed there is holiday pay, research has shown that UK employees on average only take 3/4 of their leave entitlement. Why could this be? Some argue that it would frowned upon if they took their two week break. This falls into the same category as the pressure that many feel to be first at their desk in the morning and the last to leave in the evening.
With job insecurity and budgets being squeezed, it can be hard to walk away and leave work behind for more than a few days. We convince ourselves that we need to be there and to be seen to be working hard.
I can’t get time off in the summer
Many working patterns make it harder to take leave when you want it. My husband has 70% of his leave allocated with the majority falling outside the school holidays. With the ongoing debate as to whether it is acceptable or even legal to remove your children from school during term time, a two week break can be impossible to take. That is why this year we had a week at the start of the holidays and are taking a second at the end of the summer.
I can’t afford a 2 week holiday
Going away for two weeks can be expensive. For those with children there are another 4 or 5 weeks of holiday to fund complete with outings and day care for many. The financial burden can simply be too high.
Research has shown that there has been a surge in three night breaks as this is much easier to organise and to afford. I was surprised to read that 57% of us now take our annual break in the UK. The average ‘staycation’ is a week and that is worth £65 billion to the UK economy. With Brexit looming perhaps this figure will increase further.
Should we be concerned at the demise of the two week holiday?
I have to say that I am seeing very little here that is positive for us. Regular holidays have been linked to lower rates of depression, cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. For many of us, going away gives a change in pace, a break from routine and a chance to recharge. In everyday life the conversations between parents and children revolve around daily routine. Going away breaks this cycle and enables connection on a different level.
Even booking your holiday makes you feel better. It gives you something to look forward to. The anticipation builds and you plan what you will do. Getting away helps you to leave your work behind and put it out of your mind.
You need to have time away from work. This can be hard to achieve with endless emails and messages. This makes it ever more important to get away. It has been shown that you will return to work better able to think flexibly and to be more creative and productive. You can get too involved and immersed in your work. A change in perspective can really help.
I love the fact that for Daimler employees in Germany their out of office automatically reads ‘I’m on vacation. Your message will be deleted. Please resend when I am back in the office.’ What a refreshing approach! There would not be a mountain of emails to catch up on and it would all have been dealt with in your absence. It is vital to set boundaries and to stick to them.
Holidays are important for us all
We all need time away and to connect with our family and friends. Whilst the two week break may no longer be practical or possible, we need to find a way to take time off that fits with your working pattern and the needs of your family too. We can’t work productively without a break and all too often we struggle to find a balance between work and our wider lives. Holidays are a great start in finding your priorities and giving yourself a chance to unwind and recharge.
What works for you?
What did you do for your holiday this year? Did you go for two weeks? Did you go abroad? I would love to hear how you organise your summer with work and family. You can add a comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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