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British workers reluctant to take career breaks risk burn-out

Despite almost two-thirds (65%) of British employees saying they would consider an extended leave away from work, it seems they are unlikely to take such a break and instead risk burn-out.


New research, commissioned, compared Britain with other nations across Europe and the USA, and reveals that British workers are lagging behind employees from other countries when it comes to flexible working hours and benefits such as extended leave ‘sabbaticals’.

UK employees are among the European nationals most likely to be allowed extended leave by their current employer, with one in five (20%) polled in Britain saying their workplace allows them to take these breaks.

However, more than half (54%) of those questioned believe it would be hard to return to work after a sabbatical. A very wary one in five (21%) feel it could make them less employable, while a further one in ten (13%) think it will harm their career prospects with their current employer.

Many other European nations are much more in favour of sabbaticals, stipulating that it helps with employment for potential roles in the future within companies across the globe, while British workers think it will do more harm than good.

Almost two-thirds of people (61%) in Spain believe extended leave will help them in the future in terms of employability, and more than half (60%) of the people in Germany said the same, while a further 49% of people working in France also believe sabbaticals can help with employment.

The research suggests that an extended break from work would actually be useful for many, despite Brits being least likely of all the nations surveyed to return refreshed from their summer holiday. Almost one in four of us (23%) feel revitalised after a regular holiday or extended break, compared to 48% of people from Germany and 47% of respondents from the USA.

If Brits request extended leave from their employer, the major factor influencing their decision would be to remove themselves from work-related stress. Half of those people surveyed (50%) stipulated this as their prime motive, while improving mental health (43%) and improving physical health (32%) were also cited as reasons.

When it comes to other forms of flexible working benefits, British companies are lagging behind businesses in other countries. Three-quarters of employees in the UK (75%) don’t believe they have a generous holiday allowance and 84% aren’t offered time back in lieu for days worked over the weekend. Just 30% of British workers feel they have a good work-life balance, less than the worldwide average of more than a third (34%). The countries that rated themselves with having the best ratio of work and personal life are Portugal (43%) and the USA (41%), and those who claim to have the least are Germans (27%).

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