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By Human Capital Magazine | January 31, 2012 5:00 PM PST

Australian workers have amassed 129 million days of annual leave worth $40bn in wages, and no one wins when it comes to untaken leave.

Excessive amounts of stockpiled leave can be a huge liability sitting on the balance sheet for employers, and according to Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy it's well worth planning for and addressing the challenges associated with accumulated annual leave. Employers can enhance employee engagement, productivity, and overall financial performance by following a plan to reduce annual leave liability. "There are easy-to-implement methods employers can use to encourage a leave-taking culture, with clear benefits to be gained such as building and engaging with a productive employee community," McEvoy added.

Tourism Australia's No Leave No Life website features an employer resources toolkit with a series of modules and practical case studies to assist with implementing a successful annual leave program. Key focus areas outlined include:

  •  Identifying challenges facing management such as pressure to meet targets, lack of reporting, competing priorities
  •  Recognising the barriers to leave-taking and prioritising leave-taking policy in the workplace
  •  Integrating leave-planning into current processes to ensure adequate coverage
  •  Engaging employees - CEO, management and HR commitment is critical to success
  •  How to set objectives and review regularly
  •  Considerations to keep in mind when encouraging leave - compromise with employees on leave-taking within the context of your plan to ensure acceptable outcomes for employees and management
  •  Developing a holiday-planning checklist to help staff better manage their departure from and return to work
  •  Points to help managers look at how to measure the success of their annual leave policy

Often there are deep-seated reasons employees continue to not take annual leave - from economic and job security concerns, through to apprehensions about the workload they'll face upon return to work if their position is not backfilled while they are away. "Employees who don't take annual leave can often display higher levels of depression or anxiety-related stress among other symptoms compared to those who do take holidays," Medibank Health Solutions director Dr Peter Cotton said. "Even taking short breaks for just a few days can lead to an improvement in a person's mental, emotional and physical wellbeing."

For more information and access to the employer resources and tools page visit noleavenolife.com/employer/

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