Should UK employers give staff unlimited holidays?


It’s part of a growing trend among some enlightened companies to give staff unlimited holidays and could make for a better workforce and improved productivity.

Now, Perkbox, the fast growing European employee experience platform, has conducted a survey of 1,342 working Brits to reveal opinions surrounding unlimited holidays and the impact that these policies are having on the fight against burnout.

Burnout epidemic

The workplace epidemic of ‘burnout’ is on the rise and experts have suggested that unlimited holidays may provide a solution.

Perkbox’s study shows that this initiative is indeed backed by many. 39% of employed people see unlimited holidays as either a great or good idea to help them switch off. This figure rises to a staggering 70% at C-suite level.

Time out: More time away from work may make employees more productive when the ARE there.

Switching off

What’s more, when looking at how long it takes people to switch off from work on vacation, it becomes apparent why unlimited holidays may be necessary.

On the one hand, 30% of people take 1-2 days to switch off from work, the results revealed, whilst almost 1 in 5 (18%) take 3-4 days.

On the other, the most popular amount of holiday to take off in one go was 5-6 days. It’s therefore clear that employees’ vacation time is often cut short by thoughts of the office or uncompleted tasks – signalling that limited holiday policies may no longer allow for enough time to fully recharge and combat burnout year round.

Intense work schedules

In terms of being a ‘cure’, 1/3 agree that unlimited holidays help to alleviate stress and burnout and that more holidays are needed to compensate for intense day-to-day working schedules.

As for whether the policy actually works, 26% believe unlimited holidays has decreased the number of sick leave days taken, rising to an impressive 37% of C-suite level.

Whether unlimited holidays can actually cure burnout or are simply a means of hiding it, is yet to be proven.

Bosses need to ‘mean’ it

But for the benefits to be reaped by employees, the thought appears to be that workplace leaders must communicate such policies with genuineness in the company – 26% of respondents believe that unlimited holidays don’t help alleviate stress and burnout in the workplace unless workplace leaders ‘show that they really mean them’. In this regard, ample communication about leave policies will be necessary, along with bringing about a change in those policies in the first place. Besides that, the use of Absence management software to easily keep track of leaves, approvals, minimum staffing requirements, and more, can also help employers better enforce added time-off for employees that need them.

Madlena Pozlevic, Employee Experience Lead at Perkbox says: “It’s clear that employees can find it hard to switch off from work on holiday.

“Factors such as the ease at which we can communicate with work, heavy workloads and the growing expectation of high performance, are leading to a rise in burnout and the need to be strict with ourselves when taking time to switch off and de-stress.

“Employees should feel entitled to have a strong work/life balance, but for any policies aiming to achieve this, such as unlimited holiday, to genuinely work, they need to be utilised.

“What’s more, with the results of this study clearly showing that C-suite Execs are in agreement with the policy, it’s vital that these leaders communicate such thoughts with the whole company clearly to avoid anyone from ever feeling like an ‘office slacker’ when using them.”