HAS IT HAPPENED TO YOU ON VACATION? YOUR plans of long walks, naps and meals are interrupted by your job. Before you know it, you’ve traded flip flops for a keyboard. You’re experiencing vacation frustration.
Training company Fierce Inc. recently surveyed more than 1,000 executives and employees about their time off from work. The results found 58 percent of the respondents say they receive no stress relief from vacations and more than 25 percent feel more stressed after vacations.
The pressures of work will always exist, but they shouldn’t invade your time off. Successful organizations understand that time away from the office produces good results when someone returns to the job. You can’t recharge if you don’t unplug. Creating this kind of culture requires a commitment to end vacation frustration. Consider these tips to get you started:
Unexpected work may come up during someone’s vacation, but is that person the only one who can address the task? Is there another employee who can do the work? This is better than placing a vacationshattering SOS call or allowing urgent tasks to pile up on a desk.
A backup is likely the person who would assume the duties if the vacationing employee had to leave the job suddenly due to a family emergency. It’s important everyone has a backup and that there are periodic trainings on the required duties. You can’t expect someone to perform a job that he or she doesn’t know. Also, it helps if it’s a reciprocal arrangement. The vacationing employee must make sure work is caught up before the departure. There should be no dumping of undesirable tasks on the backup.
Ask fellow employees to limit the number of emails sent to a vacationing employee. Let’s say someone is out of the office for ten business days and just one colleague sends two messages per day. That’s 20 emails filling the inbox from one person.
What if those daily messages could be combined into a weekly email? That could reduce the number of messages from 20 to two. While it takes more time and thought to put together a weekly summary email, you’ll make life easier for the returning employee and likely receive a faster response to any issues. No one likes to return to an exploding inbox, which leads many to check their email while on vacation.
Set the Tone
Create a vacation policy that can be communicated to employees. What is the agreed upon balance of work and play? Everyone needs to buy into it because if a couple of people go rogue and work constantly while on vacation, then it will soon become the norm for all. This may be your biggest challenge.
Help Create a Smooth Landing
While a vacation shouldn’t stop business, make sure you’re not overwhelming the returning employee. Their schedule should have some free time for catching up. Meetings should also be limited.
Vacations should be enjoyed and allow employees to recharge and feel good about going back to work. Vacation frustration shouldn’t be part of the job.
Ken Okel works with smart leaders and association members who want to unleash employee production, performance and profitability. Ken shares his experiences from the high pressure worlds of broadcast news, hurricane relief and professional ballet. www.KenOkel.com