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Why a ‘rest shaming’ culture could be damaging our workplaces

The average UK person working 5 days a week will receive approximately 28 holiday days per year

This equates to almost a month of free time. In an age where self-care is no longer seen as a luxury but a priority, why are so many workers still experiencing feelings of guilt when it comes to taking the leave that they have worked for and are entitled to?

Unfortunately, there seems to be something of a ‘rest shaming’ culture, particularly in high profile roles and high pressure industries. CEOs who opt not to take their leave and then brag about their dedication can make other staff feel pressured to follow suit.

The subtle insinuation that their absence means they are simply less committed or ambitious is enough to make a significant percentage of staff avoid taking their designated leave. Even when they do take holidays, reports show that there has been an increase in the number of managers contacting their staff while they are away.

A quick phone call to confirm a query or ask a question might not seem like a major disruption, but the fact is that it prevents the employee from fully switching off from their role and disengaging from the workplace.

The sad thing about this rest shaming culture is that it doesn’t take into account the valuable benefits of taking time out. Studies have repeatedly shown that holidays can lead to increased productivity and a longer lifespan, which surely has to be a positive thing for employers.

Many employees report that they feel refreshed and inspired after taking a holiday – whether it be a week at home with the family or a holiday abroad to foreign climes. When you take time out – whether it is to rest, travel, relax or enjoy what is important to you in life – you tend to find that ideas and inspiration creep up on you uninvited.

This is a stark contrast to the frustrating feeling of anxiety and stress that you can feel after too long in a bustling office with workplace pressures constantly looming. With this in mind, it’s time that businesses started not just accepting, but embracing, their annual leave policies. Allow staff the time to relax and revitalise without any feelings of guilt or unease.

One key way to do this is to avoid rest shaming by building a positive culture around holidays from the workplace. Another way is to lead by example, with management and CEOs also taking – and enjoying – their own leave, regardless of their hectic work schedules and commitments.


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