As my wedding is taking place this weekend there is a topic very dear to my heart, annual Leave. Scott, I would imagine with all the family you have arriving in Auckland and annoying wedding details to cross off you would’ve been taken this week off? Wrong again, I’ve been heading in every morning this week. Most of my relatives are staying central which of course makes sense for me to amble up High St sure! But really, the arse end of the year is becoming an increasingly tight period to recruit, with people talking about ‘the new year’ before a jack-o’-lantern has even been lit. I need to be on the tools or at the very least tools adjacent even in times of higher-than-average stress and last-minute suit alterations/catering decisions. It sounds like this is the case for many a kiwi too.
In the latest data from ELMO’s Q3 Employee Sentiment Index, kiwis are apparently saving up their annual leave and working from home heaps. ELMO found that 80 percent of Kiwi workers who have accrued annual leave have reasons that are getting in the way of them taking a break. I sit within the 24 percent that feel that it would be unwise to take time away from the coal face due to workload. A smaller percentage (19 percent) feel a little apprehensive about taking time off because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, I would’ve expected that number to be smaller by now to be honest but maybe it’s a Final Destination thing and these folks have only recently narrowly avoided death. Of the 80 percent, nearly half (48 percent) said that because of the rising cost of living, they won’t take a break in an attempt to save money. For their sake, I hope that this years must have Christmas present is a desktop mini Zen Gardens to make their working life a little more chilled.
If you didn’t know, here in Aotearoa after 12 months of continuous employment all employees become entitled to four weeks of annual leave. This is on top of 10 paid days of sick leave per year so employees can care for themselves or their dependents. I’m only listing allowances next to each other; I’m certainly not advocating for sick days to be taken willy or nilly. Saying that, use them or lose em. In our industry it is becoming more commonplace to have a few days a year to focus on mental health, as every PT that casually drops an F-bomb on Instagram will tell you, it’s just as important as bodily health. I’ve been seeing one a quarter becoming more of the norm in and it’s always something that is well-received when candidates are comparing offers. A business that prioritizes work-life balance and acknowledges employees as the humans they are is going to come out on top.
Let’s not just assume taking annual leave is for the employee’s benefit. As ELMO CEO (best anagram on a postcard) Danny Lessem said
“Allowing annual leave accrual to blow out not only impacts an organisation’s bottom line, but it is a significant liability on the books, potentially costing New Zealand businesses millions of dollars.”
As we all know, leave is an important tool we have in order to combat burnout and general fatigue. Especially in the fast-paced and sexy world of recruitment. So, should employers do more to ensure holidays are being taken? It’s difficult. If you work in an industry where total remuneration is based on going above your standard requirement then it’s in your interest to steady the ship and remain entrenched, in order to earn big. However, it looks like the main driving force behind people opting to work from home is financially motivated. 58 percent of kiwi workers chose to WFH in order to save money. Of that, 44 percent do it to save on transport costs and a slightly skewed 24% said it’s because they spend more money on food when they are at work.
Elmo found that 32 percent of those working from home would venture in for a free breaky or a catered lunch. Perhaps some sort of travel allowance would have a similar impact on office attendance? Wellness incentives would attract 25 percent of those working from home back in and 24 percent would do the same for career development sessions. In an increasingly flexible world, it is more and more important to have clear lines for when you are resting and when you are working. Like the copious amount of YouTube First Dance videos I’ve been watching to Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud, it takes two to awkwardly shuffle around. Employers and Employees need to come together and figure out ways that keep staff engaged while ensuring they aren’t taking on too much.