Don’t moan when staff take a break

Holidays allow us to crystallise our thoughts, plan and return to work with renewed vigour so bosses who complain about staff taking legitimate breaks are short sighted, says Sue Read

It only seems a couple of minutes ago that I was merrily skipping – anyone who knows me will chuckle at that mental picture – out of the office for a 10-day break. Where on earth did that time go?

I’ve decided that holidays are a good thing. But nearly a quarter of Britons do not take any summer holiday, according to recent research. This apparently puts employers in an awkward situation as by failing to take their holiday entitlements, staff risk overworking themselves which can lead to stress and other serious health problems.

While I agree with this view I also see the difficulties that arise for small companies when several staff want to take time off simultaneously.

In our firm we are fortunate that we don’t have too many people who need to take breaks in the school holidays, being either too old to have school age children or too young. But we are small enough to notice even one day when we are thin on the ground for administration cover and the telephone has to be answered by the one man and his dog who are left in the building. So for a small firm such as ours with stretched resources, staff taking time off can be inconvenient.

I have colleagues who take little or no time off through the year. They tend to be self-employed, funnily enough. I also have a husband who runs his own business and I understand how tricky it can be for someone in this position to take time off.

But once the usual objections have been overcome and the holiday taken, the benefits to individual and firm become apparent. I realise that this is difficult for all you sole traders out there but the benefits of scheduling your work and organising proper locum cover so that you can take at least a week’s break every six months have got to be worth it. I also understand it hits you in your pocket but strategic planning is imperative for any business, so can you afford not to do it?

I came back in last Monday feeling relaxed and refreshed. While lazing in the sun I had spent time thinking about business, getting my head together and planning. How sad am I? But we lead incredibly busy lives these days and the holiday allowed me time to do this – something I find difficult during the normal hectic working week.

Stepping off the hamster wheel is difficult to do but it allows us to get things in perspective and crystallise our thoughts to bring benefits to our businesses on our return. Bosses who complain about staff taking holidays to which they are entitled are short sighted.

Of course, while I was away I heard the news that interest rates had risen and I came back to a pile of emails informing me of product withdrawals and rate changes. It didn’t take long for that same old feeling to return. And the tan – such as it was – has already faded.

I’d be fibbing if I said I was thrilled to be back in the office but my break has given me the boost I needed to push into the autumn with renewed vigour. Watch out everyone, I’m back.