UK workers are increasingly willing to take measures to achieve better work-life balance, as over four in 10 (43%) of UK employees would take unpaid leave to get more time off.

This is the second highest amount of all European countries surveyed after Sweden, according to the research by SD Worx.

However, while Brits want to prioritise taking time off, the struggle is disconnecting from the working world.

The findings show that almost a third (32%) of UK employees check their work while they should be offline, and 34 percent say that it’s difficult to let go of workload when on holiday.



The new research also shows the UK could be filled with ‘workaholics’.

When British employees were asked about the amount of time off they think they need to recharge their batteries, respondents say 8.5 days on average.

This is the shortest of all European workers surveyed, showing that even taking a week away from the office to disconnect can leave someone refreshed on their return.


Work-life balance and annual leave

The research also found UK employees like routine when it comes to holidays, with 34 percent preferring to take time off during the same periods each year.

When it comes to booking time off, despite increasing digitalisation in the workplace, surprisingly only slightly more than half (52%) of European survey respondents said they could easily request leave via their desktop, and even less (38%) via their smartphone.

UK employees also said they have to book time off around 27 days in advance – the lower end of the European spectrum compared to countries like Germany (75 days), Spain (61 days) and the Netherlands (55 days) who must really plan ahead of time.


A healthy workplace culture is important

“People work to live, not live to work, and that’s why it’s so important businesses create a culture where personal time and annual leave is respected, and team members are encouraged to completely disconnect,” commented Colette Philp UK HR Country Lead at SD Worx.

“This type of culture shows a company prioritises individual wellbeing, and it can help prevent staff burnout in the lead up to a break and limit any anxious feeling about returning to work after. Instead, it helps team members ensure they take essential time off to re-set, and that they come back refreshed, re-energised, and ultimately more productive.”





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.