According to a recent survey conducted by CareerBuilder (2010) of more than 4,800 employees, 36% of employees report feeling more comfortable taking vacation in 2010 as compared to last year. More employees plan to take at least a one-week vacation this year than last year. In addition, more than half (56%) of employees say they are more in need of a vacation in 2010 than in previous years (CareerBuilder, 2010). In light of employees taking more vacation time, we’ve compiled a vacation preparation list that you can share with your employees to help them effectively coordinate vacations and get the most rest and relaxation out of their getaway:
- Communicate your vacation schedule. Several weeks before vacation, remind others, particularly any direct reports, coworkers, bosses, and other individuals with whom you work closely, that you are going to be out of the office, and that they should not schedule you for any meetings or events (Bing, 2009). It’s best to provide these individuals multiple reminders. Suggestions for how and when to communicate vacation schedules are via email, though team meetings, or on a shared calendar or vacation schedule.
- Prepare and train well ahead of time. One of the most stressful parts of vacation is preparing others to conduct your job duties while you are away from the office. Ensure that someone will be covering any necessary tasks that need to occur while you are gone and that they know what they need to do, when they need to do it, and how they need to do it. It helps to set up cross-training meetings with these people several weeks in advance and remind them of the duties they will be responsible for a day or two before you leave.
- Don’t leave any loose ends. Finish projects and assignments, clean out your email, voicemail, and workspace, and try to leave with a clean slate. When you return, you’ll have a fresh and well-organized start. If a project cannot be finished, be sure to document what is completed and what still needs to be done for when you come back to the office.
- Request status updates. If you have direct reports, be sure to ask them to provide status updates on their projects before and after your vacation so that you know where things stand (OfficePro, 2009). Make it a point to meet with you direct reports as a team or individually both prior to leaving and following your return.
- Schedule vacations during slower periods. Vacations can be more effective (and restful) when scheduled during less busy business periods. Where possible, schedule your vacation during your “off-season.” You’ll likely find yourself less stressed out if there’s less work to be done when you are gone.
- Stay connected if needed. The CareerBuilder survey (2010) found that nearly half (49%) of employers expect employees to check in while they are on vacation, particularly if they are working on an important assignment or project. Be sure you understand your boss’s expectations as far as staying connected to the work being done. If you are working on something critical or timely, be aware that you may be asked to stay connected to the project.
- Avoid first-day back syndrome. The first day after a vacation can typically be very stressful. There are a couple of ways to reduce this stress. First, you might consider taking a half-day on your first day back, working just in the afternoon or possibly from home. Second, arrive early that day to limit coworker distractions (especially from those that want to hear all about your trip). Try to save these conversations for the lunchroom or after hours. Third, you may consider blocking out time in the morning you come back to prioritize work, read email, and catch up on new developments that happened while you were out of the office. Finally, you can check your emails and voicemails the day before you return to avoid being overwhelmed during your first day back (OfficePro, 2009).
- HR Help Desk – For more information or guidance on scheduling and coordinating vacations in your workplace, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Surveys – To benchmark your paid time off practices, consult our 2009-2010 ERC Policies & Benefits Survey. Non-profits can also benchmark their vacation and paid time off benefits by participating in our 2010 ERC Non-Profit Benefits Survey.
- Bing, S. (2009). How to take a vacation. Fortune International.
- CareerBuilder (2010). Annual Vacation Survey.
- Conlin, M. (2007). Do us a favor. Take a vacation. BusinessWeek.
- OfficePro (2009). Vacation from the vacation?