Overworked Britons wasted 163 million annual leave days in 2016

05 July 2017 Consultancy.uk

UK workers gifted employers an extra £17 billion in free work over 2016, as they didn’t make (full) use of their entitled holiday time.

Research commissioned by holiday firm Airtours has revealed that in 2016, 40% of the British workforce were guilty of not utilising their full holiday entitlement, with one in six employees also admitting to having more than a full working week of unused holiday spare.

The statistics – leveraged from the Employment and Labour Market survey performed by the UK’s Office of National Statistics (ONS) – also showed UK workers waste on average five days of annual leave each year, with researchers estimating that Britons were spending less than half their holiday allowance on leisure and relaxation – as a variety of mounting economic pressures see many employees requiring holiday money to simply make ends meet.

Of the holiday time actually used, respondents said they spent an average of seven holiday days at home, with a majority of 56% admitting to using their leave performing household chores. Recent trends including the freefall of British currency values amid Brexit worries and stagnating wages which have begun to shrink against inflation have contributed to a widespread scaling back of leisure spending among the UK workforce, with many opting for cheaper “staycations” within the country, if they travel during holidays at all.

Overworked Britons wasted 163 million annual leave days in 2016

A further 32% of Britons meanwhile stated they used their holiday to go to medical appointments rather than using up sick days and unpaid leave, with the potential loss of income deterring people from leisure time in the uncertain economic era of Brexit. 17% of those polled meanwhile stated they used holiday time to deal with unexpected family emergencies, including illnesses, injuries or even extending paternity leave. However, while many workers use holiday time as income support in times of family crisis, many holiday hours are simply wasted.

Wasted time

The average UK employee failed to use around five days of annual leave, while 36% of workers polled cited having “too much on at work to take time off” as their reason for not utilising their full holiday allowance. 25% of people asked said they didn’t need to take it or even want to take time off, while over a quarter of respondents actually stated they weren’t allowed to take holiday, as it meant being off at the same time as colleagues, with 26% stating rotas had prevented them from utilising their legally mandated vacation time.

The estimated value of this total additional labour was around a £17 billion boost for UK employers – who while they were required to “pay out” the worth of holiday time not used, did not have to invest in cover for unused holiday time, on top of that allowance, meaning they saved on wages while benefitting from the continued work of employees. However, companies that fail to support put-upon employees to actually utilise their leave days could actually be missing out despite this short-term profit, with attrition meaning long-term results from the workforce could shrink. According to studies by consulting industry players BCG and EY, more than 80% of employees that have utilised leave report a positive impact on morale, while more than 70% report increases in productivity.

Stewart Davies, Commercial Manager at Airtours, stated, “We can’t believe that so many hard working Brits are missing out on their annual leave; it’s one of the best bits of the year! With work pressures and hectic daily routines, we all know how much they deserve a break from it all. So with 2017 in full swing now, and a whole new year of holiday days to take, we’re getting behind our fellow Brits and encouraging them to take some well-earned time off. And, if they choose to enjoy some time chilling out on a beach in the sun, well, who could blame them?”

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Why leaders must balance technical expertise with soft skills

17 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

Soft skills matter in the workplace just as much as technical expertise, writes Samantha Caine, Managing Director of Business Linked Teams.

For too long technical expertise has been seen as the marker of a strong candidate for development into a sales or leadership position. Sales and leadership candidates are tasked with demonstrating a diverse and wide-ranging set of technical skills, yet their aptitude in these technical skills or ‘hard skills’ cannot signify great leadership potential. This is why a healthy balance of soft skills and technical ability is required. 

So what exactly is the difference between technical skills and soft skills? In engineering, it’s crucial to demonstrate knowledge of physics as well as a strong grasp on mathematical equations. Yet, in any industry, it’s important for leaders to be able to interact with other people effectively with soft skills like communication, empathy and adaptability. 

Business Linked Team’s 2018 study into internal leadership development revealed that 69% of large organisations are prioritising the identification and development of future leaders from within the workforce. As more and more organisations begin to invest in sales or leadership development within their existing workforces, more focus needs to be placed on ensuring the right soft skills are in place. 

With those soft skills in place throughout the workforce, the business will benefit from a wider pool of potential leaders developing under their noses, and it should be the same where sales candidates are concerned. 

It’s not just about easier access to ideal candidates for these positions without the rigmarole of recruiting from outside of the organisation. The leadership development study also found that 89% of HR decision makers say succession planning has become a top priority. Those currently serving in leadership positions can’t lead forever and the same goes for those generating sales for the business.

Why leaders must balance technical expertise with soft skills

From people leaving for new opportunities or retirement, to people simply stepping aside to focus on other areas of the business, successful leaders and salespeople require experienced and capable successors that will be ready and able to confidently step into their shoes and pick up the mantle without the business experiencing any lapse in performance.

Soft skills make stronger candidates

When it comes to the soft skills required, a strong leader must be able to manage through clear communication and effective time management, coaching and goal setting. They must be able to demonstrate empathy and empower their teams to be successful, productive and fully engaged. And beyond simply giving direction, they must also be able to take direction from those above them and cascade the business strategy down through their teams. 

A strong sales candidate must possess the ability to communicate value to the customer, negotiate well and protect margin or the ability to increase the scope of a particular sales opportunity. 

With the relevant soft skills in place, the business will benefit from increased productivity, greater agility against changing market conditions and greater transparency. In turn, this will provide visibility on issues and inefficiencies while removing opportunity for miscommunication. All of this can transform the culture of a department, improving employee satisfaction and reducing staff turnover. 

Ultimately, developing leadership or sales candidates will require the business to strike the right balance between technical skills and soft skills, and this requires an effective and sustained learning journey.

A balanced learning journey

Facilitating and supporting the development of leadership and sales is best achieved by establishing training groups. By cultivating training groups, businesses are creating talent pools that will inspire and support each other on the learning journey. However, personal goals and learning objectives must be defined for each individual based on their own existing skillsets and the skills that each individual needs to develop. 

With the emergence of e-learning, businesses recognise the value of online-based learning activities, yet many make the mistake of opting for one-size-fits-all solutions which are solely focused on self-study. A development solution will only deliver true return on investment if it combines e-learning activities with group learning activities that provide opportunity for shared experiences and support.

A blended learning solution that combines self-study and face-to-face group learning activities will aid strong development of the talent pool through shared experiences. Through these shared experiences, those undergoing the training will organically develop a support network that supports the development of the group as much as it supports the development of each individual. 

The blended learning approach is supported by one of the seven principles of human learning that socially supported interactions aid the individual development of expertise, metacognitive skills, and formation of the learner’s sense of self. The strongest opportunities for development can be unlocked by blending workshops with online activities such as virtual sessions, peer coaching, self-study, online games and business simulations. But it’s crucial to provide a blend of one-to-one and group sessions too.

Beyond delivering a better learning outcome for the employee, the blended learning approach allows organisations to adapt their training quickly and easily to shifting business demands in an ever-changing landscape.