All work and no play – Small business managers don’t go on holiday

More than half of UK small business leaders have five or less days holiday a year, a fifth didn't have a single day off last year.

Bosses in more than half (52 per cent) of all small businesses – representing 2.86 million firms in the UK say they only took five days holiday or less during all of last year, with a fifth (21 per cent) not taking any days off at all, according to the Aldermore SME Future Attitudes report.

Trying to dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ before going on holiday is clearly a challenge for any business leader. The report, which surveyed over a thousand senior business decision-makers across the UK, finds that more than a third (35 per cent) of SME leaders do any outstanding work while they are away, (33 per cent) pass work over to their colleagues and a fifth (21 per cent) end up cancelling days off to ensure the work is completed.

For those business leaders who eventually make it to their holiday destination, many mix business and pleasure. London bosses are worst offenders with three in ten (30 per cent) responding to emails and calls regularly. Those from the North West seem to be better at switching off, with only 16 per cent answering work messages, and a fifth (21 per cent) not checking in at all. On a national level, almost a quarter (24 per cent) of small business bosses are still very much involved in day-to-day communications during their holidays.

Despite the most senior people in the UK’s small and medium sized businesses not being able to take as many holidays as they deserve, just over seven in ten (71 per cent) like to see their employees use up all of their annual leave. Only one in six SME leaders (17 per cent) do not proactively encourage their staff to take time off.

Carl D’Ammassa, group managing director of business finance at Aldermore, says, ‘Small business owners are clearly passionate about what they do, so it is no surprise that they find it hard to leave work behind when they are meant to be on holiday. We also know that in this modern day and age it can be a challenge to totally switch off from work as technology has made it so much easier to stay in touch.

‘It is however worrying that so many business leaders do not take their annual leave entitlement. Their entrepreneurial spirit and hard work is vital to the success of not only their own business but also the wider UK economy. It is crucial they take proper breaks to achieve a good work life balance and avoid burn out. Enjoying well-earned time off to recharge their batteries could bring a fresh perspective to their business thinking.’

Further reading on going on holiday

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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