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« Happy Labor Day! | Main | How to Become a Better Leader »

Make employee vacations work for you

By Amy Beth Miller, editor of “The Organized Executive”


Instead of making do when an employee takes time off, seize the opportunity to make your team stronger. Before the vacation, cross train employees. You will build their skills, ensure that work flows smoothly no matter who is out of the office and give your employees the peace of mind that they can take a total vacation from the office.

Fewer than 10% of executives and employees say they can completely relax while they are on vacation, a survey released this week shows. In fact, 58% said they receive no stress relief from their vacation, according to the survey by Fierce Inc., a leadership development and training firm. Even worse, 27.3% of employees said they feel more stressed after their vacations.

It’s no wonder employees don’t feel refreshed. More than 40% check with the office at least every other day, and 6.5% check in multiple times a day while they should be on vacation, the survey found.

Allow your employees to forget about work during their vacations, so they can return energized and ready to dig in again. Here’s how:

  • Review employee job descriptions and ensure that they are up to date. That will allow you to see the critical tasks that someone must cover when an employee is out of the office, whether that is because of vacation or illness.
  • Cross train staff to cover that critical work. Consider splitting one person’s tasks among several people, so no one is doing double duty when a team member is out of the office. During the training, the employee who usually does the task will be available to answer questions.
  • Schedule projects so no one is working until midnight to wrap things up before vacation or is slammed when they return to work. If employees begin delegating work a few days before they leave, they will be available to answer questions.
  • Limit contact with employees who are out of the office. Instead of allowing anyone to call and interrupt them, tell the staff to come to you first. You can decide whether the matter is urgent enough to interrupt someone who is supposed to be off work. If it isn’t, note what you need to ask when the person returns to the office, so your team will be better prepared the next time.

Tell your team members that you expect them to give work their full attention at work, and to relax when they are on vacation. With these preparations, both you and the employees can be confident that the team can cover for anyone who is out of the office.

Do you unplug from the office when you take a vacation?

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