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Don’t succumb to guilt: Take a well-earned break

Updated: 14 Apr 2016
Half employees in China choose not to take paid leave, said by a recent nationwide survey conducted by China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.
According to the People's Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China, there are mainly three reasons. Employees who work for government organs, institutions and state-owned enterprises, reluctantly give up their rights due to concerns that asking for paid leave might "leave bosses the bad impression of being lazy" and influence future job promotions. In other jobs, such as sales, employees forego paid leave to avoid smaller bonuses, as only basic salary is given during that time. Complicated application procedures were another reason cited.
Taking a well-earned break from work in order to recharge your batteries improves your mental health and workplace productivity, however many professionals find it difficult to switch off or succumb to guilt by limiting their time away from the office, says recruiting experts Hays.
In his latest LinkedIn Influencer blog Alistair Cox, Hays’ CEO, says that spending time away from your place of work isn’t something to feel guilty about.
“The advancement of mobile technology in the past decade means the office is never too far away, leaving many to feel as though they should always be available,” says Alistair. “Employees often feel that they must be perceived as being ‘always on’ to show they are dedicated and working hard. This is nonsense, and in fact reduces development and productivity.
“Employees must be actively encouraged to take time off and it is up to businesses to create a holiday friendly environment so that people can relax, recharge and enjoy their time off without checking emails several times a day.”
Alistair says there are real business benefits to be gained for an employer too. “Creating an environment where staff are encouraged to take proper holiday breaks and really switch off improves the overall atmosphere of a workplace,” he said.
“It makes for a happier, healthier workforce, and has a positive impact on boosting productivity in a team. In addition, creating a workplace culture where employees are encouraged to take their holiday entitlements is increasingly important in attracting and retaining the best talent.
“If employers need more convincing, ensuring that employees do not suffer from fatigue impacts positively on the bottom line. So investing in employee well-being makes sense.
“And there is no exception to the rule, however senior you are,” says Alistair.
Paid leave is also crucial to China's ongoing economic restructuring, promoting consumption and the development of the service industry amid subdued economic growth. Besides, taking paid leave means people can travel around anytime they want, which will help with social and security problems caused by the surging tourists during holidays.
According to Hays there are a number of ways employers can encourage employees to take regular holiday entitlements:
  • Create a guilt-free zone: Eliminating that cloud of guilt that some people feel about taking holidays is essential. There may never feel like a ‘good’ time to take a holiday but it’s crucial to all employees’ well-being.
  • Prescribe a digital detox: Although it can be difficult to resist checking emails while away from the office, employees should be encouraged not to log on. If it is necessary to check emails, a process should be put in place as to how the employee is to be contacted and an immediate response should not be expected.   
  • Take an interest: Taking a genuine interest in what a colleague has done on holiday can improve morale and create closer ties with that person upon their return to work.
  • Lead by example: If employees see the CEO or senior management taking time off to relax, it sets the right example for the rest of the business.
In China Hays operates from four local offices: Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou and Guangzhou.
Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.
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