Holistic holidays

Posted by Justin on 13 July, 2011


Branson calls for US firms to be more generous with their holiday policies

July article of the month from the e-lesson archive: ‘Holistic Holidays’.

It’s summer! As the weather gets warmer, we all start thinking about booking that all-important annual holiday. But how long we get to lie in the sun depends on how generous our holiday allowance is.

Last month, when straight-talking Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson gave the opening speech at the Society for Human Resource Management Conference in Las Vegas, he criticized US companies for giving their employees a mere two weeks annual leave. Unsurprisingly, he received a huge round of applause from the appreciative audience.

Two weeks! Two weeks does not seem long enough to ‘re-energise’. What’s more, a lot of workers in the States either do not take their full annual leave, or – can you imagine it? – continue to work remotely whilst on holiday! Blackberrys on the beach…

Branson went on to say that if it proved too difficult for companies to give longer holidays, they should offer staff the chance to take unpaid leave. He was especially critical of the way that employers in the States are not very flexible in looking at the alternatives to full-time work which are becoming more common in Europe, such as job-sharing or going part time.

Not that I’m personally heading off for the beach. Last year, I would have laughed at the idea of going on any kind of ‘holistic’ holiday. Now, having recently taken up yoga, I’d actually love to go on a retreat. In fact, I’m about to book a yoga holiday somewhere in the Himalayas. And you can be sure I won’t be taking my computer with me.

Some areas you may wish to explore with your business English students are:

  • What kind of holiday will they take this year? Relaxing, adventurous or ‘alternative’?
  • Do they agree with Branson that two weeks annual leave is too short?
  • Have they ever been tempted to work on holiday? Are there any circumstances that would force them to work whilst away?
  • Would they like to take six months unpaid leave? What would they do with it?

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