Can taking a long or adventurous holiday boost productivity?

Research has shown that SME owners aren’t taking the holiday they deserve and the average employee spends 19 days a year wishing they were on holiday, impacting on productivity.

Research has shown that UK SME leaders typically only take 14 days holiday a year, with one in eight taking no annual leave at all. A further 27 per cent claim that since becoming self-employed, they now work longer hours finding themselves ‘on duty’ for up to 13 hours a day.

And it’s not just leaders that are working long hours and starting to feel burnt-out, 47 per cent of employees say they regularly work four or more hours of overtime per week. With the stress of trying to keep New Year’s resolutions or being pushed to reach business goals, today is when the greatest amount of UK employees take the day off work due to illness, dubbed ‘National Sickie Day’.

Rather than moan about low staff productivity and flat the office might be, perhaps it’s time to explore the idea of sabbaticals to combat staff not taking the leave they deserve.

According to a recent survey, half (50 per cent) of respondents in the UK take a sabbatical in order to get away from the stress of working life, with 18 per cent of employees wanting to go on a sabbatical to travel, complete a course or learn a new skill.

So, how can time away from work benefit both a business and employees?

Boost your creativity

According to Harvard psychologist Shelley Carson, one of the best ways to enhance your creative output is to clearly separate work and consumption. She claims this will help clear our minds, and allow for creative information and inspiration to be absorbed without doing any work. However, this is easier said than done, especially if the majority of your role is dependent on technology or social media.

Learn a new skill

To stay relevant, your company and employees must keep learning comments Pat Wadors, at The Harvard Business Review. By learning something new, no matter what it is, the skill of learning is being exercised, which is invaluable. This also goes for non-work related skills, as you never know how learning a diverse skill can help down the road.

An easy way for businesses to help motivate employees is by creating a small ‘development’ fund for each individual. This will allow them to learn a new skill of their choice, work or non-work related.

Increased employee gratitude and productivity

Many employees who return from a sabbatical or break from work report that they feel refreshed and have a new found passion for their job once they return. Sabbaticals are also a method of ‘keeping faith’ between an SME and employee, with well skilled staff being retained whilst avoiding burnout.

Offering the opportunity for employees to do something outside of their comfort zone; whether it’s travelling, learning a new skill, or working on their health will not only benefit your business in the long run, but it might just prevent people from pulling that ‘sickie’.

Although, it’s not just employees that need looking after, it’s just as important for SME owners to take a break, especially when they are feeling overwhelmed. Taking a short sabbatical may even help bring a new perspective to problems and a renewed passion for their business.

Conor McArdle is content executive is Brighter Business

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