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Wednesday, 13 January 2016 09:05

Aussies are taking more leave - the quest for work/life balance

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The average Aussie leaves two annual leave days unused, down from five days in 2014. 72% don’t feel guilty about taking time off - annual leave is their right!

According to Expedia’s 2015 Vacation Deprivation study reveals Aussies are taking the most annual leave in seven years.

The study, now in its 15th year, study surveyed 9,273 employed adults across 26 countries in Asia Pacific, Europe, North America and South America. Globally, the report found that the median number of paid annual leave days available to workers is just less than 25 days per year, in addition to public holidays. Collectively workers take about 20 of them, leaving 20% unused.

In Australia, employees are entitled to, on average, 20 days per year. While 63% of Aussies take all their entitled annual leave, the rest leave two days unused each year – the lowest amount in seven years – indicating Aussies are increasingly keen to make the most of their time off work and value the benefits of taking annual leave.  

Kelly Cull, Expedia.com.au travel expert, commented on the report: “As Aussies, we love to travel but often the pressure of work and life can stop us taking as many holidays as we’d like. It’s a significant shift to see Aussies taking the most annual leave in seven years and it’s encouraging as the benefits are clear.”

Countries across Europe are renowned for their generous annual leave entitlements - workers in Germany, France, Spain and are entitled to 30 days of leave, on average, and take them all. South Koreans are the world’s most vacation deprived workers – while they’re offered 15 days on average, they take only six days off within a given year.

  • 89% of Australians understand regular holidays are important for general health and wellbeing.
  • 91% said the impact of a holiday related to their overall happiness.
  • 44% feel they start to reap the rewards of annual leave as soon as they start their holiday and a further 23% say they truly begin to relax the moment they reach their destination.
  • 49% claim to have more than eight hours sleep a night when on holiday, compared to only 27% when they are at home.
  • While, only 15% say their holiday high lasts more than a week post-trip, after a holiday, Australian workers believe they are:
    • Better rested (92%)
    • Happier (89%)
    • Less stressed/more relaxed (89%)
    • Closer to family/friends (83%)
    • More focused at work (77%)

15% of Australians book their next trip within a month of coming back from leave. Those really eager to start dreaming about their next break admit to booking holidays within a week of returning (8%), the day they return (9%) and even during their current holiday (3%).

While annual leave might make most Aussies happy, for some it can also cause feelings of guilt for leaving work behind for colleagues or fears of being perceived as a ‘slacker’ by their boss. Workers in some countries, such as France, feel their bosses disapprove of them taking leave, creating a sense of holiday-guilt. Australians, however, feel no such remorse: 72% of Aussies don’t feel guilty at all about taking leave and see it as their right, and one in five (21%) said they feel somewhat guilty but take annual leave anyway.  

Interestingly, of all the age groups, 13% of Aussie Gen Ys fear taking leave as they were worried it would be perceived negatively by their bosses (6% for those aged 35-54 and 3% for those aged 55 and over).  

Cull, commented: “It’s positive to see Aussies understand the benefits of taking leave on their health and wellbeing. Whether we are travelling the world, spending the time with family and friends, or relaxing time out from work is important. And even though we’re just starting the New Year, right now is a great time to book travel. There are so many amazing travel deals available across Australia and the world, an affordable break to rest and recharge the batteries in 2016 is only a few clicks away.”

When looking at how they choose to spend their leave, more and more Aussies (50%) are choosing multiple short getaways rather than one long holiday (35%). While some have their sights set on interstate or international destinations, 5% of Aussies take leave to take care of errands.

42% say they don’t check emails and voicemails at all, not all workers respect the work life divide while on holiday. When asked how often they check emails and voicemails on a seven-day holiday, 12% would check them once a day, 24% would check them once or twice, and 11% would check them three or four times during the week.  

The full Vacation Deprivation list – vacation days offered versus days taken – follows:

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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