This is the first year that I am going to take two consecutive weeks of time off. In theory, it will be nice to disconnect from email and voicemail but in reality, I know I will be checking both regularly. One reason is that I can’t believe that I could drop off the grid like that and wouldn’t be missed. I MUST be more important than that! The second reason is that I will have to spend a week following my vacation catching up on emails and getting back up to speed. This reasoning, combined with an iPad and iPhone means that I will not be able to fully disconnect.
So how rested are your employees getting while on their vacations? Companies offer paid time off so employees have an opportunity to enjoy personal pursuits and reenergize to become more productive while at work. Companies that offer this time and then don’t encourage it – or worse, discourage it – are doing their employees and themselves a disservice. People who aren’t rested tend to get sick more often, creating more unplanned absences (which is far more disruptive than a planned vacation). Employees who don’t get a break also falter in employee productively and employee morale. Additionally people who aren’t able to enjoy their personal pursuits might feel resentful of their job, creating a negative and unproductive environment – furthering low morale and productivity.
But even when your employees do take time off, how disconnected from work are they really? Short of traveling to a remote section of the world, technology is available everywhere and allows us to stay connected to our work. Free Wi-Fi, 3G networks, roaming plans… all make it nearly impossible to disconnect completely. As the employer, you set the tone for what you expect of your employees when they’re off. A few tips to help your employees get the vacation they need:
Arrange for backs up so that employees aren’t worried about who will be handling their work while they’re gone. Make sure that the employee has time before they go to update their back up on any potential issues that may arise in their absence.
Have the employee turn on their “out of office” notice on their email and phone that directs callers to the back up.
Tell vacationing employees its ok to disconnect and turn off their work emails and cell phones.
Allow for time upon their return for the employee to catch up on emails and messages. Don’t plan an 8:30am meeting on their first day back.
Try your best not to call/contact a vacationing employee. In cases of emergency this may be necessary, but do what you can to solve the problem without bothering someone on vacation. Vice versa, if they call in, remind them that you’ve got it covered!
Don’t let the work pile up. If there are co-workers who can share the load it will be much better when the employee returns.
A little encouragement to take the time and unwind will make a world of difference to your employees.