It’s official – having a holiday is good for you

It’s official – having a holiday is good for you

Exchange Street Director Andy Taylor on the proven positive effect of holidays; for employees AND employers

Do you take your full holiday entitlement? Things may have changed in the last decade or so as smarter/flexible working, work-life balance and mindfulness have taken off, but it is worth remembering that it was not that long ago that some employees (I hold my hands up here) did not take their full holiday entitlement, believing that it reflected better on their commitment.

Recent news that the amount of sickies being thrown has dropped substantially had me thinking; how many of us still feel under pressure to work long hours and not go away for a two week holiday? Particularly for those engaged in sales, where your reactive work is covered but not your proactive work, it can be a dilemma. You know you need a lengthy break but… your sales figures may well suffer because of it.

However scientists have now discovered the psychological benefits of a holiday can last for up to a month after returning home.

Nuffield Health, the UK’s largest healthcare charity (albeit in association with travel operator Kuoni!) conducted a study and found there were striking effects on those not going on holiday. Higher blood pressure, increased stress and poor sleep amongst them.

Travel can help us distance ourselves from our “problems”, provide perspective and de-stress our minds, which in turn leads to higher levels of motivation and job satisfaction, making us more creative and productive. For many it provides the time to get active; watersports, cycling and trekking are all very popular pastimes when away.

Studies have also shown that travel leads to a deeper sense of cultural awareness and personal growth. Your brain goes into overdrive when you are away, particularly with new sounds, sights and smells to adapt to. When you are trying to navigate your way through central Bangkok, the client who is not calling you back really does not enter your mind!

So it is of no surprise that it is a scientific fact that just six days away on holiday reduces stress, boosts the immune system and even lowers levels of proteins that link to dementia and depression. Such genetic changes are long-lasting.

This is not just of significance to individuals. Companies too need to recognise that holidays and holiday entitlement are important to people. They should be encouraged to go away and what is more, companies should think more about rewarding their staff with better holiday entitlements. Rather than the rather stingy 21/22 days a lot of firms offer, why not have a minimum of 25? Why not enable staff to buy holidays or enable them to gain extra holidays at a quicker rate than is usually allowed? It leads to a happier, more productive workforce and will help businesses attract employees; is a couple of days here or there really going to have such a negative impact?

That reminds me; I’ve a holiday to book.