Eliminate your Fear of Taking Annual Leave and Book in More Travel

This sponsored post is brought to you in partnership with MyNRMA, Australia’s largest motoring and services member organisation.

Australians are very lucky in the sense that they enjoy up to four weeks of paid annual leave a year; one of the highest levels in the world. Yet, we are simultaneously afraid to take this annual leave so we can recharge and refresh ourselves. A study documented by travel industry magazine Traveltalk found an astounding 58% of employees in Australia are reluctant to take this annual leave due to their work commitments. The same research called Australians out on it, even labelling it with a troubling name – Fear of Taking Annual Leave (FOTAL).

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FOTAL represents the perception that there are negative ramifications when we take annual leave – will I lose my job? Will I miss out on that promotion? Could I be perceived as lazy, or not committed to the job? Will I fall behind in my workload? These questions would no doubt enter the minds of those employees who fail to cash in on their annual leave each year. Increased work hours and decreased workforce sizes are creating escalating bouts of stress. Conversely, 81% of Australians prefer relaxing holidays. Why such overwhelming ironies in our perception of annual leave?

I remember working for a manager once who reminded me of a constant truth – ‘there’s never a good time to take annual leave’, yet she was always accommodating in my annual leave requests and we worked together for mutual benefit. There will always be deadlines, project roll-outs and specialist responsibilities. Yet if we’re repeatedly putting ourselves through high stress levels and longer work hours, we’re putting our long-term health into jeopardy. Health is something that we can never cash in for the sake of our working lives. This is ever-so important, especially as we’re starting a brand new year. So, how can we incorporate more travel into our lives and dissolve this FOTAL we may be holding on to?

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Do you suffer from FOTAL? If so, have that ‘hard’ conversation with your boss

Taking annual leave is an entitlement that’s available to you, and for good reason. Your boss, and the company you work for, wants you to take annual leave so you can refresh and replenish yourself. Stress, which leads to extended sick time off work, is a liability for companies. One way companies can alleviate this is through annual leave. So, take the entitlement that’s your working right to take! Even if you take just a week off for a relaxing beachside holiday of doing nothing or getting back to nature on a camping trip, you are making a priceless investment into your overall health and the working environment you work in.

Think about booking in a quick meeting with your boss, and map out a time for your annual leave that’s beneficial for you both. Also, check with your payroll department to determine how much leave you have built up. If you are afraid of the work not getting done, then discuss ways with your boss about how the work can get done for example allocating tasks to a junior employee who is looking for new learning experiences. You don’t have to take four weeks at once, simple mini breaks work just as well.           

Now that the ‘when’ is established, book in a holiday that works for you

It could be a plane-ride to a beach holiday on the Gold Coast, or a road-trip to a favourite city or regional town, or just staying at home as you try out all the restaurants and fun things to do in your hometown. The point is to book in that holiday that works for you. What is going to help you restore your wellbeing and reduce your stress levels? For me, it’s going to an unknown destination and learning as much as I can about the culture and sights. I also love the simplicity of a road-trip with a loved one – simply mapping out a rough direction, booking in a few stops along the way, and then meandering down the road in our car on the exciting thrill of what will happen next.

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Just like making sure all responsibilities are covered at work before you leave, you need to make sure all your holiday affairs in order. Chances are, if you suffer from FOTAL you may not even remember the last time you took off. So, make sure all of your insurances, airline bookings and payments, roadside emergency plans and luggage items are locked down and current. If you’re road-tripping, get your car serviced beforehand and consider roadside assistance as a precaution.

Now it’s time to conquer your FOTAL. Your first day of annual leave is here!

You’ve had the not-so-hard conversation with your boss, you’ve organised your workload and delegated your tasks where needed (you can always repay the favour when your colleagues need some of their own annual leave) and booked your trip. All that’s needed to do now is simply go and enjoy. Time’s up! Turn off your computer and go – go, NOW! Your first day of annual leave is finally here.  

Have you ever suffered from FOTAL? If so, how did you eliminate yours? I'd love to hear your stories in the comments section below.