Why are British workers reluctant to take career breaks?

Aircraft flying into sun

Despite 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 independent research commissioned by travel specialists Opodo.co.uk compared Britain with other nations across Europe and the USA, which reveals that British workers are lagging behind employees from other countries when it comes to flexible working hours and benefits like extended leave such as ‘sabbaticals’.

UK employees are among the other European nationals most likely to be allowed extended leave by their current employer, with 20% polled in Britain saying their workplace allows them to take this break.

However, 54% of those questioned believe it would be hard to return to work after a sabbatical.

A very wary 21% feel it could make them less employable, while a further 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 that it will do more harm than good.

61% in Spain believe extended leave will help them in the future in terms of employability and 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.

23% feel revitalised after a regular holiday or extended break, compared to 48% of people from Germany and 47% of respondents from the USA.

According to the research, if Brits were to 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 that can help to improve employee welfare, the study reveals that British companies are lagging behind other businesses in other countries.

Three-quarters of employees in the UK don’t believe they have a generous holiday allowance and 84% aren’t offered time back in lieu for days worked over the weekend. It’s of no surprise then that 69% of Brits don’t think they have a good work-life balance.

The study reveals that just 30% of British workers feel they have a good work/life balance, which is less than the worldwide average of more than a third (34%) people surveyed.

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