Business owners don’t take enough time on holiday and return to work early

Susan Fiander-Woodhouse and team at Blaenafon Cheddar Company
Susan Fiander-Woodhouse and team at Blaenafon Cheddar Company
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More than a third of business owners took no more than 15 days holiday in the last calendar year, considerably below the statutory 28 days available in normal employment, according to a new study from lender iwoca.

Yorkshire business owners are less hard on themselves than elsewhere in the UK, but a quarter of Yorkshire owners still took 15 days or less holiday last year.

The findings form part of iwoca’s study of 1,000 business owners, which looked at the number of holiday days taken in the last calendar year and how much money they spent as part of their trip. The survey also examined their working habits whilst on holiday, explored the reasons why they would consider cutting short their breaks and how holiday habits differ by age groups and UK regions.

Martin Brimfield, business operations manager at Neath Afan Gymnastics, said: “I am the worst culprit when it comes to holidays.

“The reality is that no business with any plans for longevity should be reliant on any one person. This business could happily live without me for a couple of weeks. Holidays, or significant breaks away from it all, should be part of my work plan, but it’s just not a habit I have formed. It's definitely time to change.”

More than one in five (21 per cent) owners would consider cutting their holiday short in the fear that they were “not meeting the needs of their clients”.

Being concerned about “losing business opportunities” or that “the business isn’t doing very well” would each cause 16 per cent of respondents to come home early and get back to work.

To alleviate some of the strain on small businesses, iwoca has launched its “Give me a break” campaign. Starting today, the one month competition gives business owners across the UK the chance to win a holiday up to the value of £3,300 – the average amount spent by small business owners on holiday in the last calendar year.

Seema Desai, iwoca’s chief operations officer, said: “Spending money on a holiday could make you – and your business – richer in the long term.

“Small business owners don’t have a set amount of days or a ‘use it or lose it’ annual leave policy, so they need to decide when to go away and stick to it.

"We launched ‘Give me a break’ to help business owners reset mentally, address work-life balance problems and boost productivity when they get back to work.”

Susan Fiander-Woodhouse, managing director of Blaenafon Cheddar Company, prioritises taking holiday but struggles to switch off.

“Sometimes we work 40 days straight with no break so a holiday can be our saviour. Because we are a handmade tiny production we need to take regular breaks or we’ll burnout.

"When we travel, be it in the UK or Europe, we will always work on the tourism side of the business, swapping information with our hosts and even sending our Welsh customers to wherever we’ve been and vice versa – it’s great fun.”