As we approach the tail end of what has been a very difficult year, typical year-end work conversations surrounding holiday plans will inevitably surface. This year is different. Due to COVID-19, overseas holidays are no longer possible for the time-being, and even if borders gradually open, travel may be deemed risky.
On top of leaves accumulated due to border restrictions since early 2020, for those still working from home, we may not have utilised our annual leaves as often as we used to, since we have greater control over our time. While working from home, we can still keep an eye on our children, run out for personal errands or take an extended lunch with our loved ones for their birthdays, without having to take leaves.
Companies can typically address annual leave matters in one of four ways.
- enforce a block leave for employees to give them a well-deserved break
- ask employees to take their annual leave entitlement, or risk for it being forfeited
- let employees roll it over to 2021
- allow employees to encash unused leaves at the end of the year
Option 1 or 2 doesn’t give employees much of a choice. Even if they don’t want to, they are forced to take leaves. Personally, I’m not in favour of it.
Option 3 & 4 are ideal for employees, but ironically, they would actually encourage workers to not take their annual leaves for a well-deserved break. Given a choice, employees may prefer to encash their leaves for more money or allow their leaves to be rolled over to 2021 when they may hopefully use it for a longer holiday once overseas travelling resumes.
As most of us would know by now, working-from-home isn’t a walk in the park. Mental fatigue and stress is a real problem that many of us who have been working are facing. A well-deserved break should be on the card, and that’s part of why paid annual leaves are there in the first place.
Rather than to force your employees to take block leaves at the end of the year, or let them encash their leaves or to roll it over to 2021 (which means they won’t be taking a break), here are three ways you can encourage them to make good use it.
# 1 Paid Weekday Staycation
Since we are no longer able to travel, the next best way to take a break is to have a staycation at one of Singapore’s many hotels. However, staycations in Singapore are getting quite expensive given the greater demand due to the year-end holidays and will likely be further fuelled by demand from SingapoRediscovers vouchers coming in December.
One way to encourage your employees to take a break is to pay for their weekday staycation. This can be done on a claims basis up to a certain amount set by the company, allowing your employees to book their favorite hotel in Singapore.
To maximise the deal that you can get, opt for weekday staycation packages, which tend to be cheaper and when the hotels are less crowded – giving you a better chance of a room upgrade or other benefits such as early check-in and late check-outs. A weekday staycation also ensures that your employees will be using their annual leaves for this well-deserved break, rather than to leave in unutilised.
# 2 Paid Weekday Family Outing
For employees with children, the school holidays are a great time to bring the kids out around Singapore. Local attractions such the Singapore Zoo and Universal Studios Singapore (USS) can be quite costly for us to bring out the entire family.
To encourage your employees to take time off work and to spend quality time with their family, consider paying for their weekday family outing. You can come up with a catalogue of activities and attractions that they can choose from and book it on their behalf. Alternatively, you can also allow them to claim for the expenses spent on the activities based on a pre-set budget.
# 3 Spa & Massage Day
Instead of a day packed full of activities, some employees may prefer ‘me time’. One way to allow them to enjoy it in style would be a spa and/or massage day. There are multiple hotels and established brands that will be glad to pamper your staff and to give them the headspace to unwind from work – at least for one day. Again, this can be paid for by the company.
If you need more ideas, consider using Klook to book the experiences for yourself or on behalf of your staff. Whether it’s great staycation deals, local attractions or relaxation & beauty packages, you would be able to find something suitable for all your employees.
Need Financing Support During This Period?
From now till 31 March 2021, SMEs can enjoy extra financing support of up to $5 million through the Temporary Bridging Loan Programme.
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