No Leave No Life

Finding balance in a busy world

We Aussies enjoy taking annual leave, so why is it that so many of us have accumulated a lot of leaves that is screaming out to be used?

Are employers being too tough and refraining from approving leave? Or are we letting everyday life and work commitments get in the way of planning for longer term events?

Maybe the cost of a holiday is simply becoming too expensive to justify spending our hard earned cash?

It is staggering that the 7.7 million1 full-time workers in Australia have accumulated 123, 510, 0002 days of annual leave. That’s an average of just under 21 days – or almost a calendar month – that those workers could be spending relaxing and doing as they please!

Even more interesting is that 28% of the total workforce has over 5 weeks of accrued annual leave.

Stop and look up

Rather than trying to understand why people are NOT taking leave perhaps we should look at the benefits of taking leave? Recent research3 indicates changes in career and jobs aren’t always triggered by events that occur at work. Surprisingly, personal events such as major birthdays, reunions and holidays ranked quite high on the list.

The theory is that these personal events often cause people to rethink their life and what they are doing. This was particularly true where they spent these times with other people and had the opportunity to make a comparison. In other words, until people take some time out of their everyday life (going to work) they don’t have time to assess what they are doing – and why.


According to the ABS, around 5 million full-time workers regularly work more than 40 hours per week. That’s 65% of us! So it’s not surprising that people who DO NOT take leave tend to be unhappier at work and have higher stress levels. On the other hand, those that DO take leave not only tend to be happier but are also more productive. It’s been shown that there is a strong correlation between workers’ levels of happiness and their ability to operate at peak performance. Don’t forget, when you’re operating at peak performance you are more likely to be considered for that promotion or pay rise.

Finding the balance

So why is it that so many of us don’t always take our annual leave?

We need to find a balance between the cost of taking annual leave and the benefits that result from taking annual leave.

Most importantly we should always strive to live within our means. An extravagant overseas holiday or that trip of a lifetime may deliver instant happiness, however, this happiness may be short lived if we return with a mountain of debt that holds us back and causes stress well into the future.

Let’s consider… Is there a return on investment from taking annual leave? A relaxing break on annual leave may allow you the time to contemplate:

  • Your next career – that could lead to improved happiness and higher earnings,
  • Your financial objectives and how you might achieve them through future investments, or
  • Lifestyle choices, including where you really want to live.

Taking leave is important!

Aim not to be in the 50% of workers with more than 4 weeks of accrued leave! Taking your leave regularly allows you to recharge the batteries and take the time to consider where you are and what you want to be doing.


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