Labour shortage is increasingly becoming worrisome not just for employers but the workforce as well. Lack of adequate staff has not only been adding on to the workload for employees, but has also been preventing workers from using their vacation days.
The latest "Personal and Work-Life Balance 2021" report from Ireland's Central Statistics Office (CSO) found that more than one in five workers did not use their annual leave in 2021, with the most common reason identified as the organisation's shortage of staff.
Commenting on the trend, Statistician Maureen Delamere said that this was a period when "varying levels of COVID-19 in the community, with related restrictions, would likely have impacted annual leave, sick leave and other forms of leave from work."
"In 2021, one in five employees did not take any annual leave over the previous 12 months," Delamere said adding full-time workers (92%) in larger organisations were more likely to take annual leave than their part-time equivalents (88%).
"One in fourteen (7%) employees had their leave request refused, with the most common type of leave refused being annual leave (91%)," Delamere added.
While staff shortage was the most common barrier for employees when taking their leave, one in eight (13%) employees with children said they had to keep their leave for school holidays, while one in fourteen (7%) needed to keep theirs in case their children got sick. Further, employees perceive taking unpaid leave as a threat to their career.
"More than one in eight (13%) said that taking unpaid leave was harmful to their career. This was especially so for workers with no children – 16% compared with 9% for workers with children," the report revealed.
The barriers to consuming leave extends beyond those engaged in full-time employment, The report found that even part-time workers, in companies with over 100 people or more, were "twice as likely" to face barriers when taking an unpaid leave.
The next best thing to taking a leave, for a healthy work-life balance, is flexible working hours. However, only one in six (17%) of employees availed flexible hours over the past 12 months.
"Of workers with children who had worked flexible hours, over one third (35%) availed of flexible hours for almost all of the previous four weeks, compared with just 14% of workers with no children," said Delamere.
Bringing spotlight on the awareness of entitlements, Delamere noted that the majority of employees were well-aware of their entitlements when it comes to breaks, however, there was less awareness of the entitlement to have daily rest periods (76% awareness), according to the report.
With burnout continuing to grow and no respite for organisations in addressing the talent shortage, it is clear that the existing workforce is likely to bear the brunt of it. How organisations ensure a healthy working ecosystem for their employees to help them sustain their efforts without compromising well-being remains to be seen.