Skip to main content

“I don’t have time to take holiday. Holidays are for the staff”.

How many times have you been asked to take some holiday by your partner or family, only to  explain that it’s harvest, or calving, or you’re short staffed or you’re attending a meeting, or you have a vet visit planned, or you’ve gone down with TB or the staff need to take their holiday first or….any number of reasons or excuses?

Part of the joy of the agricultural sector is the freedom and lifestyle it offers.  But how many of us get to genuinely experience those freedoms?  Or are we tied to our farms wondering when our next day off will be?

Whilst it can be easy to ignore the need for a break and to keep working, eventually the mind and body will respond by creating stress, fatigue and poor decision making.  This applies to everyone on the farm, not just the staff.

So how can we find the time for our breaks and holidays?  Here are 5 short tips.

  1. Plan ahead. You know when your busy times of the year are likely to be.  Whilst you may believe there will never be a “quiet” time in your business, there WILL be periods where there is less need for you to be around. Book a holiday during these times.
  2. Take short breaks. Getting away for a week or two at a time might be difficult but a long weekend or short midweek break might be possible.
  3. Put yourself first. It’s easy to say that your staff should have their holiday.  This is true but if you sacrifice your own family time for the sake of others, you may end up never taking time off at all.  Put your dates on the holiday calendar first.
  4. Employ more staff. Many farms run their staffing levels just below what is needed to save money or reduce their labour percentage. It’s a false economy. Taking on one extra member of staff could revolutionise your business.  Check out the case study on the REAL Success website.
  5. Mental health awareness. The minimum legal requirement for holiday is 28 days.  This is recognised as the minimum time people should take off to rest and recover from the stresses of life.  As a farm owner or leader, you are not exempt from this rule.  For the long-term sustainability of your business, you need to watch your stress levels and how it affects you mentally and physically.

So let’s change the narrative to:

“I plan and take holiday because I prioritise my own mental and physical wellbeing and know it’s better for the future of my business.”

For advice on recruiting more staff visit the Recruit page.