Almost 40% of owners take under 15 days holiday


min read

Almost 40% of owners take under 15 days holiday

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The outcome of our most recent Insights research project suggests that 37% of business owners took no more than 15 days holiday in the last calendar year. Our findings from 1,000 owners indicates that an incredible 2.1 million people across the UK take significantly less than the 28 days available in most salaried jobs.

For many business owners, particularly those early in their ventures, taking little time off stems from not wanting to step away from their budding enterprises.

“In our very first year I didn’t take holidays,” says Tagore Ramoutar, managing director of Oxfordshire Artisan Distillery. “I worked throughout the year – I worked on weekdays and weekends – I worked long hours. It's different now and I allow myself to take holidays – even though I tend to take work with me when I go away.”

Alex Crockford, an online personal trainer, agrees. “At the start of my business I was very stressed and didn’t take any time out. I would freak out if I stopped,” he says. “But with experience I now know that everything is fine and life goes on without working.”

These sentiments echo the findings from our survey, prompting us to launch the Give Me a Break campaign, in which owners of small and medium enterprises can win a holiday.

Taking time out

Thankfully, like Ramoutar and Crockford, many owners do treat themselves to a break. Almost a quarter (22%) of those we asked say they took 36 days or more off in the last year. But despite that, many owners report they have business on the brain when they take time out.

“I never totally switch off. There’s always something that comes up,” says Adam Rogers, the CEO of DeskBeers. “As the main technical person, I always take my computer in case the website goes down – though this has never happened. Last year I did a big upgrade to the website [while on holiday] and took advantage of the planned lull in other operations to ship the upgrade.”

Coming home early

While many take their work with them, our research highlighted that more than one in five (21%) business owners would consider cutting their holiday short if they were concerned that they weren't meeting the needs of their clients. Similarly, 16% told us that both the idea of losing opportunities or the business not doing very well would cause them to come home early.

To combat this, some owners go as far as slowing down their business' operations to enable them to take a holiday.

“Taking holidays have always happened once planned,” says Rogers. “But they do take a bit of planning. We do things like carrying larger quantities of stock, avoiding new marketing activities and generally streamlining things to ensure a smooth couple of weeks while I’m away.”

Give me a break

Our one month competition gives company bosses across the UK the chance to win a holiday up to the value of £3,300 – the average amount spent on a holiday by the people we surveyed. To enter and be in with a chance of winning a trip to Portugal's Algarve, owners of small and medium-sized businesses simply need to tell us how their holiday habits have changed since running an enterprise.

(This competition is now over).

Words by
Dan Smith

Dan Smith is Content strategist lead at iwoca and editor of Insights. He's written for a number of publications such as The Guardian and WIRED on topics ranging from finance to sport.

Article updated on:
January 17, 2020

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