The best employers recognize that even the most dedicated employees need a break every now and then. Regardless of industry or organizational size, vacation and holidays are a fact of life. But good leaders have learned how to balance giving their team time to relax with keeping them engaged during their absence. Let’s not be silly, because “balance” certainly doesn’t mean people need to be checking in everyday. In fact, you want to encourage breaks to avoid burnout.
There are a few proven strategies, however, for ensuring that you acknowledge employees will be away without stressing them out by piling the work on before they go. After all, it’s not as if the organization will “fall apart” without them (despite popular internal belief held by some A-grade employees and managers). Here’s how to keep your team engaged through their vacations and holidays, while ensuring they’re comfortable taking that week or two break they deserve and need.
Keep Everyone Informed
One of the easiest ways to ensure a smooth operation with key players absent is to make sure that the entire team is well aware of everyone else’s vacation plans. That doesn’t mean taking out a one-page spread in the company newsletter, but there should be a mechanism in place to inform people that certain members of the team will be unavailable. Save 30 seconds at the end of weekly meetings for a vacation update, for instance. It’s essential for remaining employees to orchestrate a plan for working collaboratively with others to ensure no one “drops the ball” when certain people are unavailable. And don’t forget, leaders need to communicate their absence as well. Make sure the communication is meaningful and not just a simple “out of office.” Being upfront about when and where you are accessible – and more importantly, who they can turn to in your absence – is a critical part of ensuring continuity.
Use E-mail As A Tool
Getting the message out could be as simple as sending a few e-mails letting everyone know who will be available to work through problems and who will be sitting on a beach somewhere decadent. Send weekly e-mails on Fridays and Mondays: one to prepare everyone for the upcoming week, and one to welcome back team members who are returning. The benefit is twofold – it keeps everyone informed, and it creates that “warm, fuzzy feeling” letting employees know that you’re aware of them coming and going.
Face Time: Before & After
Face time from managers, both prior to and after a vacation is a key part of letting employees know that you are aware and supportive of their plans, and also glad to see them return. Make a brief appearance on the Friday before team members leave to acknowledge their plans. Saying something simple like, “Hey Jim, I know you’re going off for a week or two, have a great time on your vacation. Don’t worry about checking in. Relax, and we’ll see you when you get back.” On the Monday they return, drop by their desk with a quick “Hey, welcome, back, how were your holidays?” Remember, the conversation doesn’t have to be a twenty-minute recap of the vacation to be sincere or effective. A short, simple acknowledgement that someone was missed is a great way to illustrate genuineness.
In every business, people need breaks. With vacations and holidays, however, it can be confusing and overwhelming to keep track of who is available and when. Make it easier for your team to stay focused and engaged by keeping everyone informed, acknowledging their plans with genuine face time and welcoming them back with sincerity.