Why we don't take our holiday - and why we must

We feel too guilty to take a break

Updated: 

Sunbathers on deck chairs on a beach
Steve Parsons/PA

Feeling guilty for taking a summer holiday? You're not alone! New figures show that we Brits are so hard-working that more than half of us give up holiday days for work.

The numbers were put together by jobs site reed.co.uk who surveyed over 2,000 adults. From this, they found out that:

...Over 50% forego an average of three holiday days per year...
...2 in 5 have actually cancelled a holiday for work...
...1 in 8 get to the end of the year with too many holiday days too late to take off...
...1 in 5 simply forget to book the time off while busy with work pressures...
...1 in 6 say they look forward to going back to work after a holiday...

But while it's all well and good to boast that we are a nation of conscientious and committed workaholics, is this good for our health? And does it make us any better at actually doing our jobs?

The impact on you...

Lynn Cahillane, of reed.co.uk, said: "While our latest research is a positive reflection of our attitude to work and testament to how much we value our jobs, everyone needs to recharge. Time off restores your energy and focus allowing you to be more productive and creative on your return to work."

It's also a personal thing as too much stress can lead to both mental and unpleasant physical issues, not to mention the age-old problem of what too much time at work does to your family, social and romantic life.

So why are we doing it?

One suggestion, given by the TUC (Trades Union Congress) is that it's our traditional British sense of guilt, still tormented by the economic recession, combined with the pressures of tighter deadlines, heavier workloads and constant redundancy threats.

The impact on the boss...

Shaun Graham, senior organiser for union GMB, says that employers have a responsibility to ensure their workforce are taking holidays.

He said: "Many employers are forcing their employees to work through their holidays by keeping staff levels down and 'guilt tripping' up. Employees are told to either take their holidays or lose them, but are then put in a position where they find it impossible to take time off."

And it's just as much in the boss' interest, as HSE statistics show that in 2013/14 more than a third of work-related illness was due to stress and anxiety, with those affected taking an average of 23 days leave each (a total of 11.3 million).

Melissa Compton-Edwards, who wrote the report Married to the Job, warns employers: "What should not be overlooked is that excessive hours can have a negative effect on job performance and cause costly or reputation-damaging mistakes.

"Employers need to ensure that they do everything in their power to improve productivity through efficiency improvements rather than by overloading their staff."

A little helping hand...

So if the too-guilty-to-holiday paradigm sounds like you, or your boss is so scary that you can't bear the thought of even opening up the holiday rota sheet, totaljobs.com have kindly put together these top tips to help you ease the process:

1. Always give your employer plenty of notice of time you'd like to take off
2. Commit yourself to a break by booking flights and hotels in advance
3. Plan a holiday with friends and family so you can't let them down by backing out
4. Delegate work to colleagues before you leave so you know you won't return to chaos
5. When you do get away leave the laptop at home, turn off your phone... and relax!

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