Holidays are more than just a workplace perk – they’re essential to our health and wellbeing. Claire Burrows is a passionate advocate of taking time out. Here she tells us why.
I’ve read some frightening statistics about employees who don’t take their annual leave. Being a person who has far too much wanderlust than is fiscally achievable, I can’t ever imagine not taking holidays.
But this isn’t just because I love to travel. Holidays are incredibly important to both employees and employers, and I’d like to share some recent experiences to explain why.
In November I was lucky enough to visit South Africa with my wife and parents. We had an absolute blast visiting different places and immersing ourselves in the local culture. We all switched off access to our respective offices for two whole weeks. For much of the trip, we had absolutely no phone signal at all.
Talking vs technology
This was an unfamiliar concept, but one that I grew to find incredibly liberating. Our loved ones at home knew our itinerary so were able to contact us if a real emergency occurred (luckily, it didn’t), but no-one else could.
The result? Genuine quality time with those around me, blissfully unaware of what was going on in the rest of the world. No BBC news, no Facebook, no Twitter and most importantly no emails – as distraction-free as possible.
I had an abundance of meaningful conversations with the most precious people in my life – something that often falls by the wayside in the fast-paced lives we all lead. Bear with me, I know this sounds too mushy for a work post…
Time out from stress
Before my holiday, I’d been feeling particularly stressed, working on numerous challenging projects whilst juggling personal matters. A familiar feeling to many, I’m sure. I left the office feeling anxious about the time away from my clients and fearful about my workload when I returned.
However, having now had this experience, I cannot recommend it enough. I appreciate taking this amount of annual leave in one go isn’t always feasible – but if you can, please, please consider it. I left the office a stressed and exhausted human – one who was likely working at 80% of their potential. I returned refreshed, recharged, full of memories and experiences that fuelled my enthusiasm for work, and 100% ready to give my job everything I had.
Local is as good as global
I appreciate that getting away to such exotic destinations isn’t always possible – but it isn’t even necessary. My wife and I recently drove 45 minutes down the M5 to Bridgwater, to watch the Simon and Garfunkel Story. We stayed in a £30 Premier Inn and ate at the local pub. I returned to work on the Monday feeling exactly how I felt after my two-week holiday. Refreshed. Because I’d been away, had new experiences and fed my soul with something other than work.
I adore my job and the company I work for. But the salient message I’d like to communicate from this is, shockingly…take your holiday – whether it be two weeks in an unfamiliar place, two weeks camping locally, or simply a couple of days in a Premier Inn.
Switch off access to the world and take advantage of the time with those most precious to you – without the distractions of the outside world. When you eventually return to work, you’ll be a better person, and a more productive and engaged employee.
Claire Burrows is Lead Scheme Benefits Co-ordinator at PES
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