Forbes writer, Raquel Baldelomar, wrote a first-rate blog post featuring tips to catch up on work after a vacation. However, making these ideas work for employees takes more than good planning from employees themselves. It also takes support from company leaders.
With vacation season in full swing, here are tips for managers and leaders that mirror Rachel’s advice:
1. Plan ahead for your employee’s return to work. Just as your employees create post-vacation to-do lists, create your own list to use when your colleagues return. Save it on your calendar as an action item for when they get back to check in on key priorities.
In addition, rather than flooding your colleague’s in-box while they are out, be considerate and take them off of email strings hashing out minuscule details of a task/decision. Save important emails in a draft folder and hit send after the employee returns. Even then, only send the important ones. Better yet, summarize key activities, decisions and news that takes place while your employee is on vacation and send one (yes, one) email with the subject line: “Catching you up on last week” when they return to the office.
2. Schedule time to regroup. You know when your top performers are gone. You miss their energy, attention to detail and ability to manage myriad details without dropping a ball. When they return to work, give them time to catch up. Instead of setting a catch-up meeting, or worse yet, a critical client meeting, at 8 a.m., set a catch-up meeting for later in the afternoon. Give them some breathing room to get caught up and back in the swing of the work routine.
3. Delegate job duties to coworkers and employees. We’ve all read countless studies showing a positive correlation between vacation time and a re-charged, re-focused, and relaxed workforce. Due to the benefits time-off brings to employees who are producing business results, foster an internal culture where delegating duties is expected when people go on vacation. My colleague, Kelly, and I have talked many times about how we value this in our Linhart PR culture.
This is especially important in professional service firms like ours. Rather than allow clients to solely trust their account lead, delegating tasks helps them trust the firm at large. It also helps to develop team members. A true win-win for everyone. (I can hear my Type A friends saying “but they might not do it the right way.” True. They might not do it your “right” way, but build trust with your colleagues by allowing them to do it their “right” way.)
4. Check in and make it personal. This is the in-person version of the “catching you up on last week” email I mentioned in #1. Plan to talk to your colleague about what’s important – his or her vacation – as well as the key activities that happened last week. It’s not an official meeting. It’s a casual discussion. Keep it short, focused and drama-free.
5. Focus on priorities. Check in on what’s important for the week and month ahead versus a play-by-play look back at the time they were out. Let the week they missed out of the office exist as a great week of vacation for them. After all, isn’t that what we owe our employees who help make our businesses a success?