Encourage a Vacation Culture Without Upsetting the Workflow; Here’s How!
It’s always a tricky balance; between taking a vacation break from work and not being able to do so. Sometimes everyone in your team want days off during the same time, especially during festivals. Sometimes, the company culture is such that your team members might be afraid to take time away from the office. Employees that opt not to take their vacation could actually be doing more harm to themselves and to your company than you might think.
There are a number of reasons why your team members might not want to take time away from the office. Fear of missing out on a promotion, fear of falling behind at work, or simply wanting to save vacation days for another time are all common reasons that discourage your people from taking time off. Today’s leading employers encourage time off and want employees to take time away to recharge, rest and find that work-life balance.
That being said, there is no doubt, at some point in time, conflicts will occur. A colleague in accounting might have a wedding planned at month-end when payroll is due. Another in the IT team will want the same few days off, even though a new software launch is expected to take place at the end of the week. Or your two office assistants who also happen to be good friends might take a holiday together. What do you do? It’s a headache good managers want to try to avoid. It starts with planning – well in advance.
Here are four basic ground rules to manage a good vacation rotation going in your office:
Rule 1: Have a very clear vacation policy:
It is wise to have a clear, well-enforced policy in place to prevent confusion and help employees understand what steps need to be followed to use their time off. If employers decide to provide time off they need to make sure it uniformly applies with the same do’s and don’ts for all employees without discrimination. Some of the areas to be covered include who is eligible; what kind of vacation / days off do you offer permanent vs. temporary employees; what happens if an employee doesn’t avail of the stipulated holidays within a given year; if you have a clearly busy period at work that recurs every year, and requires more hands, make sure that you specify that in the vacation policy for instance.
Taking this a step further, you may want to discuss this policy with a potential hire highlighting it during the interview itself. In case of an emergency, and long periods of time off, you can also outline how a replacement can be made. Written policies are the easiest way to communicate the requirements for taking time off.
Company policies and procedures ensure a safe, organised, empowering, and non-discriminatory workplace. Policies protect employees from a free-for-all environment of favouritism and unfair treatment. These four parameters will ensure that a policy is holistically framed.
Rule 2: Try to accommodate. Don’t deny:
It’s not always easy to accommodate vacation requests, especially around key holidays such as Diwali or Christmas & New Year. Not to mention, holidays that coincide with children’s vacation schedules. Many offices can struggle with finding a full team in place during these times. Some companies have systems in place to grant time off based on either a first-come, first-served basis or by tenure of employment.
When a lot of employees request time off, it can be a good idea to use temporary professionals to fill in gaps and maintain productivity. This is one way to accommodate people’s requests. Remind the employees ahead of a busy period to plan before hand for holidays, and coordinate with each other before they plan to take time off at critical times.
Having said this, with an ‘Open Door policy’ being adopted in most organisations, employees can get direct access to their superiors. There will be times where they might approach you with ideas or requests that may not be agreeable to you. However, don’t say ‘no’ just yet. Knowing how to effectively communicate a ‘no’ is an art too. Here are six things you can do instead.
Rule 3: Be ahead of the calendar. Plan for vacation days:
Team members may typically have specific seasons to take long breaks. You may be in that mode yourself! As a manager, you not only have to make sure your own job is adequately covered before you proceed on leave, but you also need to prepare for vacation season by coordinating workflow and accommodating your employees’ days off to avoid disrupting business operations. Planning ahead can avoid scheduling nightmares when preparing for vacation.
A good way to take care of scheduling time off is to address it at a team meeting. Have each staff member name their preferred vacation dates, and log them all on a master calendar. If too many people want to take off during a given period, deciding collectively is more efficient than multiple back-and-forth emails — and you having to decide who wins and who doesn’t. Also, share the calendar and keep everyone in the loop, and cover for tasks so work doesn’t suffer.
I believe, just like you are responsible for the success of your organisation, similarly, the onus of making your vacation worthwhile is also on you. Here are 5 ways to truly unwind on holidays, while ensuring that your work or your teams are not affected by your absence.
Rule 4: Encourage employees to split vacation time into shorter periods:
Ensuring team members take a vacation can bring a host of benefits for their well-being and productivity and for the success of your company as well. Among the ways to do this is allowing employees to split vacation time into shorter periods that can help encourage those who feel anxious about going away for a long time incentives to take time off can help create a company culture where it isn’t frowned upon. This may also result in helping your team work in a more coordinated manner and rely on one another to make sure duties are covered.
Employees that do not take the time to relax can cost them in more ways than one. If your organisation has implemented a ‘use it or lose it’ policy when it comes to vacation days, employees could be missing out on more than just the relaxation benefits! Shorter vacations or split vacation policy can ensure that there’s balance and some people are not seen in poor light for taking off, as others come across as overworked.
While it might be difficult for both employers and team members to step away from the office, having a clear vacation policy that encourages team members to take vacation days will ensure that you have employees who are recharged, in good health free from stress and ready to take on that next challenge at work.
There are plenty of companies today mandating a two week vacation at least a year. Some offices like TED for example, shut down the office completely for two weeks in summer to ensure everybody gets time off.
Whatever vacation policy you choose, be sure that it fits your company’s goals and culture, and that your policy communicates to team members that taking vacation days is a good thing. After all, life is short and it’s important to take the time to enjoy it!
At Yellow Spark, we put together tailor-made policies for smooth organisational function. To know more write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Profile: Aparna Joshi Khandwala is a passionate HR professional. She co-founded Yellow Spark to work with like-minded people who believe in the power of leadership, which is the only business differentiator in today’s time.