26 May 2020

Encourage staff to take a break, to maximise the benefit of lockdown holidays

Taking time off work during lockdown, particularly in place of a cancelled holiday, can feel like adding insult to injury. But having time off work is crucial to maintaining good mental and physical wellbeing, and that includes holidays taken during lockdown. If living and working from home with limited travel options, the temptation to work during holidays can be greater than ever, but it’s vital employees take a proper break to ensure they receive the recuperative benefits of taking time off work. Towergate Health & Protection highlights some of the activities which businesses can encourage staff to explore further during their time off, many of which can be supported by their employee benefits package.

  • Learn to cook: Businesses have become increasingly innovative with their experience days, where they cannot currently be done in person. An example is famous chefs, taking their hard-earned skills online, teaching employees how to make new dishes. Most employee benefit providers provide online health and wellbeing portals and apps for members that include healthy eating recipe ideas, with some even offering discounts on healthy foods, helping employees to spend their time experimenting with new ways to eat healthily.
  • Fitness retreat: If a wellness holiday has been cancelled, employees can still get fit by taking advantage of digital membership and online classes. Classes can be live or pre-recorded, offering access to cardio, resistance and stretch sessions. Celebrities may also be fronting these classes, guiding employees through exercise for a range of fitness levels – whether pre- or post-natal, or tailored to low impact, for example. Some employee benefit providers offer apps that connect with fitness trackers to link activity with rewards, making a lockdown holiday a perfect opportunity to rack up those reward points.
  • Tackle a health concern: Being too busy is often a reason for employees not seeking advice for a medical concern. Taking time off work means they may have an opportunity to explore virtual medical services – such as an online GP – to finally tackle a nagging concern. Now might be the time to deal with addictions such as smoking-cessation programmes, without the stress of work to deal with.
  • Coping mechanisms: Mental health apps can monitor mood and provide tips on how to cope with various emotions, such as mindfulness and relaxation techniques. For those struggling with anxiety during lockdown it could be a beneficial tool and skill to learn.
  • Do nothing: Even though commuting to work has temporarily ceased for many employees, alarms for work are still going off, Zoom calls abundant and task reminders dinging regularly. Presenteeism, although no longer office based, is still at large – with employees feeling as though they need to remain constantly contactable by video or phone calls for even longer stretches of the day. Taking a complete break from technology and to-do lists, to totally switch off and do nothing, can be as important as filling time during a lockdown holiday.

Brett Hill, Distribution Director at Towergate Health & Protection says: “Whether working in an office or at home, it’s always been important to take a break from work to recuperate. If employees want to take leave, then there are plenty of benefits available for them to try something new. Whilst some employees will still be keen to take a few weeks off, others may only want a few days – but time off remains important, even during lockdown.

“For employees that do not want to use annual leave, encouraging regular breaks – such as going for a walk before the working day or taking a full lunch break – can help employees to maintain their energy levels. Although it can sometimes feel like Groundhog Day during lockdown, there are plenty of ways to shake things up, and businesses can remind staff of the employee benefits available to help them do just this.”