Opodo.co.uk has carried out a survey to investigate our behaviour when it comes to taking annual leave. Nearly half of those surveyed claimed they take the majority of their holiday entitlement during the summer months of May - August, despite the fact that the UK summer is generally the most pleasant time of the year. A staggering 81% take the majority of their holiday between May-Dec, which means they will suffer the first 4 months of the year - the coldest and dreariest as well as the time that Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is at its peak - without taking a single break. And they will spend the summer months - when work is generally quieter, the weather is brighter and travel is at its most expensive - on holiday.
The Opodo.co.uk survey also discovers that the notion of long holidays being the best for achieving relaxation is causing people to allocate their time off in big ‘chunks’, forcing them to go for long periods of time between breaks. 44% of travellers surveyed claim they regularly go 4-6 months without a holiday and incredibly, 4 out of every 10 surveyed have gone for 12 months without a holiday. A staggering 88% admit that these long periods of time without a break lead to increased stress levels at work and over half (57%) claim to experience a feeling of anti climax when on holiday, due to the build up of stress before hand and high expectations of the long awaited holiday.
Opodo.co.uk has discovered that employers who advocate short breaks amongst staff will have a healthier and more productive work force. 77% of those surveyed claimed that their productivity levels are greatly improved when they come back from a break of as little as 3 days. Days taken out of the office due to stress-related sickness account for the loss of £370 million to British industry each year (Health & Safety Executive), and many of these days are taken to stress and build-up of pressure. Opodo’s ‘Short Break Solution’ will help to alleviate this stress, leading to a more productive workforce that will cost the economy less.
Carole Spiers is a respected business stress consultant and a VP of the International Stress Management Association (UK). “One could argue that taking chunks of holiday in one go - two weeks or in some cases three - is a knee jerk reaction to the fact that we seem to spend most of our lives at work,” says Carole. “While the vacation in itself might be extremely relaxing, the subsequent transition back to work is often extremely stressful, thereby undoing all of the positive wellbeing effects of the holiday itself.”
“We’re very privileged in the UK to be afforded such large amounts of holiday time, which is in direct contrast to our American cousins who have, on average, ten days of official holiday vacation time a year. It’s all about planning. Over 72% of those surveyed said they have failed to take up to 6 days of their holiday allocation. Therefore, my advice to anyone planning their 2007 holiday would be this: take a shorter annual holiday, but pepper the rest of the year with several short breaks of between three and five days long, especially around the winter months when people often feel that they have nothing exciting to look forward to.”
Neil Mott, UK Country Manager at Opodo.co.uk, commented: “These figures are just astonishing and people really should consider how they could use their holiday allocation to break up long periods throughout the year. A third of those surveyed receive 26-30 days holiday each year, meaning that they could have two weeklong holidays as well as at least 5 additional breaks each year. With the variety of short breaks on offers at Opodo.co.uk, there really is something suitable for everyone that will break up the monotony of a long working year.”