Tradies are “too afraid” to take time off work

By Jarrod
5 Min Read

National research has found thousands of tradies are too afraid to take annual leave, with fears of business “drying up”.

In a recent national wellbeing survey, the tradie marketing group Hipages revealed that two in three tradies (64 per cent) were worried taking time off work would cost them business. 

One in four (26 per cent) of the 500 tradies surveyed said they didn’t take annual leave at all last year or only took one week off, while two in five (40 per cent) said they only took one break a day.

The research also looked more deeply into a typical tradie work day, including how many hours they work and how often they take breaks. Nearly half (45 per cent) of tradies work nine or more hours daily, while one in 10 work longer than 11 hours. 

Meanwhile, 40 per cent only take one break daily, with sole traders the hardest hit and taking the least time away from the tools.

Organisational psychologist Dr Amantha Imber said it was vital tradies take breaks throughout the day to decrease the risks to their health and business. 

“Working yourself until you’re physically and mentally burnt out can have a huge business impact including making costly mistakes on the job or taking longer to complete jobs,” Imber said.

“Whether it’s a mini break during the work day, or a three to six-day holiday, taking a break from the physical labour and the mental work can do wonders for your health, which will ultimately increase motivation and productivity once you return to work.”

Jason Charles, Owner of Charles Bros Building Contractors, told researchers that, while he loves the job, taking time off work was vital for staving off the effects of mental burnout. 

“To ensure I avoid burnout, I make sure to incorporate breaks on days I’m back to back, and when I book leave, I hand off all my live projects to make sure there’s no last-minute stress and I’m not working on my break,” he said. 

“I’ve just come back from a holiday that I’d been looking forward to and I can already feel it’s made a huge difference to my morale now that I’m back onsite, and my clients and colleagues are noticing an improvement in my work.”

More Aussies avoiding leave

But tradies aren’t alone. According to the ELMO Employee Sentiment Index, 75 per cent of Aussies are avoiding taking leave, citing rising cost-of-living pressures and demanding workloads as the cause. 

The survey of 1000 workers revealed almost a quarter of Aussie workers have banked than their yearly entitled leave of 20 days, with over a third feeling they needed to “work harder or longer” to keep their job safe.

Almost half (41 per cent) have avoided taking leave to save money or because of the cost of living, while 26 per cent say they have too much work to take leave.

Levels of burnout among Aussie employees remain high at 42 per cent, with 30 per cent saying they’re overwhelmed by the amount of work they have to do.

CEO of ELMO SoftwareDanny Lessem, said that by allowing annual leave to accrual, businesses were actively hurting employee wellbeing and potentially costing their business “millions of dollars”.

“The damaging impact of burnout, with its flow-on effects to productivity and performance, would be unnerving to quantify,” said Lessem. 

“And as the end of year and holiday season approaches, this issue is particularly relevant for both employers and employees. Mandating employees to take a significant portion of their annual leave, encouraging them to enjoy a well-earned break and look after their mental health and wellbeing is paramount”.

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By Jarrod
Jarrod Brown combines his background in journalism, copywriting and digital marketing with a lifelong passion for storytelling. He has a strong passion for new and emerging consumer technology within the building sector. He lives on the Sunshine Coast - usually found glued to the deck of a surfboard.

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