Prevent Summer Meltdowns in the Office!

David Levine| July 16, 2019| B2B

Six tips for a cool transition of work when employees take summer vacation. 

Summer on Long Island. Time for beaches, fireworks, ice cream and grilling. But it’s also time for vacation. Traffic seems a bit lighter, the line at the deli moves a little faster and the parking lot at the office is definitely emptier. That’s because many employees naturally take their vacation in June, July and August. Kids are off from school, the weather is more conducive to outdoor activities and of course, there’s sand and surf.

But without proper planning, employers can be stuck with limited staff to help them get through the summer months. This causes stress for them, overburdens employees who are in the office with extra work and creates an overall lack of productivity that can really hurt a business. The issue is that many workers save their vacation days for the summer and may even take off one to two weeks at a time. That’s quite a stretch of time for employeesespecially those with increased or hard-to-replace responsibilitiesto be away. 

Employers don’t want to deny their employees time off when they need it, but they also need to find a way to keep their business operating smoothly.

1. Vacation Scheduling Policy. Request that employees submit their vacation plans up to 6 months in advance That way, management can anticipate any gaps during the summer and perhaps even work with their employees to schedule vacation time where everyone wins. In fact, some companies determine an employee’s vacation time together with their employees rather than just letting the employee choose their time off.

2. Vacation Action PlanPut together summer vacation “action plans” with each employee who is taking time off during the summer. Have them compile a list of key projects, processes, contacts, deadline and other details that would be helpful for their manager or a co-worker who may need to jump in to help while they’re away.

3. Cross-Training. Designate employees who will cover for each other when one is out of the office, kind of like a buddy system. Office buddies can shadow each other ahead of time so that when one is away, the other is already up to speed. This cross-training approach is also a great way for employees to learn other skills, handle more responsibility and bring even more value to the company.

4. Clear Communication. Make sure employees who are away update their voicemail and email messages with clear details and instructions for what to do in their absence. They should also update their calendars to show when they are away and when they will be back at work, ready for meetings and assignments. Make sure to inform key clients, partners and other colleagues of their planned time off and who they should contact while they’re away, so that there are no surprises or hiccups.

5. Transition Meetings. Hold hand-off meetings before and after an employee’s vacation to ensure smooth and complete transitions so that nothing gets lost in the shuffle.

6. Temporary Support. Consider temporary or contract workers to help fill the gaps while employees are away.

There’s no question we want our employees to take vacation time—during the summer or whenever they want to. Everyone needs time off to recharge, reflect and reconnect with life outside of the office. Vacations should be stress free for employees and their employers. And with the right planning and expectations, they certainly can be!