More than two fifths of managers don't use full annual leave, says ILM

13 August 2014 -


Some 41% of bosses lose up to a week of their paid holiday, while others continue to work from their laptops and devices during leave days

Jermaine Haughton

Businesses are running the risk of having unhappy and burnt out leaders at the helm, with 41% of managers found not to have used all their holiday entitlement last year. According to new research by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM), one in 20 managers lost a week or more of their holiday allowance in 2013. The organisation has urged companies to check that all their senior staff are taking full entitlement.

ILM’s study of more than 1,000 managers found that one third of those missing out on holidays were unable to carry over days owed to the following year, because of restrictions set out in company policies. ILM chief executive Charles Elvin said that firms should make annual leave a top priority for staff, as it can help strengthen and rejuvenate the workplace. 

“Holidays are vitally important for maintaining a happy, healthy workforce,” he said, “so it’s a concern to hear one in 20 managers telling us that they lost a week or more of their annual leave allowance last year. Workers come back from leave refreshed, relaxed and revitalised, which is ultimately great for business – so it should be a top priority for employers to make sure their employees use it rather than lose it.”

Further findings from the study showed 15% of managers felt their work-life balance to be poor while an additional 40% admitted there is definitely room for improvement. Some 63% of workers report that their bosses strongly support their work-life balance – but almost one in five (19%) said that their manager was not as supportive in this area as they would like. A 15% sample said that they did not feel like they had any backing at all from their bosses on the issue.

Elvin explained that bosses have an important role to play in supporting their staff for the betterment of the workplace. “We know that work-life balance has a direct impact on performance,” he explained. “It’s important that workers feel they have time to switch off and a holiday is a big part of that. Managers have an important role to play in ensuring workers take the leave they are entitled to, so this summer I’m urging them to look at what hasn’t been taken and encourage their teams to take it.”

While getting staff to take all their annual leave is one problem, getting workers to stop working while on holiday is yet another important issue to address. This was underlined by an ILM review of last year, in which managers reported that even when they do take holidays, they aren’t necessarily relaxing. In fact, 54% of managers went so far to say that they wanted to work while on annual leave – while 70% stated that they were reading and responding to emails during breaks.

“Smartphones are amazing and have revolutionised the way we work,” said Elvin, “but they do have some unanticipated side effects. Managers are telling us they are finding it increasingly difficult to just switch off and leave the office behind, but it’s really important that they switch off and make the most of their time off work to fully relax, reflect and unwind and return to the office with renewed energy, fresh ideas and perspective.”

For thoughts on how managers should cope with the stress of 24/7 availability, sign up to this CMI seminar The Technology of 24/7 and Remote Working, scheduled to take place in High Wycombe on 10 September.

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