Entrepreneurs

Council Post: Leaders: Eight Ways To Prevent Work From Piling Up During Staff Vacations

When it comes to employees taking vacations, it’s all about achieving balance. Too many staff members off at once can cause heavy workloads and stress for the remaining team, but too few staff members taking time off can also mean your team isn’t getting the rest and relaxation they need to do their best work.

Encouraging time off, then, is necessary for a happy and healthy workforce. However, to prevent work from piling up while staff is away, leaders will need to take a few proactive steps. Below, the members of Young Entrepreneur Council each share one thing a leader can do to help prevent overwhelm and stress for their team while others are away.

1. Act As An Example Of What To Do

As a team leader or manager, you have to drive the company’s culture surrounding vacations and work-life balance. Your team should value time off (which is necessary to avoid burnout, increase employee happiness and retain key workers), and many will model their behaviors and attitudes surrounding PTO by looking to you as the example. Ensure transparency in your policies and encourage communication among team members around preferred holiday times. Some might prefer summer over winter holidays, and vice versa. Being able to anticipate employee absences and track those vacations alongside upcoming projects will be key to effective planning strategies for any team leader or manager. Last minute vacations and PTO requests can be signs of distrust toward management and lead to toxic workplaces. – Lauren Marsicano, Marsicano + Leyva PLLC

2. Create A Spreadsheet For Transparency

Communication is key to finding balance. Create an online spreadsheet that is accessible to everyone so employees can log their vacation time and also see when others will be gone so that planning for absences becomes easier. Managers must check in daily with employees to discuss workloads and take action to spread out responsibilities if one person becomes overburdened. – Evan Nierman, Red Banyan

3. Ensure The Team Is Informed And Prepared In Advance

When employees plan for vacation time, make sure that everyone on your team is informed of and prepared for their absence. First, have your employees use their calendars to communicate vacation time to ensure everyone knows when they will be away. This can be done through a platform like Google Suite or another shared calendar. Second, your employees should delegate some of their tasks to other team members so work doesn’t pile up while they are away. The important thing is to give your team a big heads-up so they can prepare for having an extra task or two on their hands. – John Hall, Calendar

4. Train Your Team Members To Be ‘T-Shaped’

If you have ever heard about the concept of a “T-shaped” marketer, that’s what we encourage for every single person on our team. The concept can be applied to any industry. It basically means that a person has one core skill but is also experienced in several related areas. When you have lots of multiskilled people on your team, they can back each other up and fill in any gaps that may arise. It’s a great way to balance the workload and keep your processes running smoothly under any circumstances. – Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS

5. Delegate Specific Work To Specific Employees

One way to streamline the work process is to designate specific people to be responsible for specific tasks in the absence of other workers. Additionally, it’s important to communicate with all employees before they leave for vacation about what will need to be done when they’re gone and who will be responsible for certain tasks. This will help avoid any confusion. – Candice Georgiadis, Digital Day

6. Encourage Working In Advance

Let it be your norm to do work in advance. Whether it be for a project or regular tasks, anticipate everything and do things in advance to avoid cramming. This will help you be ready for possible delays caused by emergencies and even vacations. It will give everyone the mindset of being ready but still responsible for their own tasks. – Daisy Jing, Banish

7. Require Written Coverage Plans

Expect your team members to each document their own coverage plan in writing (we have a spreadsheet template) and share it at least a few days before their break starts. It forces the employee taking time off to carefully think through any gap they might leave, and ensures supporting colleagues have a clear understanding of where they need to step in to provide support. – Jake Goldman, 10up Inc.

8. Bring On Additional Help

One thing that is often overlooked is working with a temporary employment agency. Hire a summer temp to cover the duties of your staff as they take vacations. Suppose you can’t find someone with the technical know-how needed. In that case, you can adjust responsibilities to shuffle administrative-type jobs to a temporary employee to free up other employees for the technical job aspects of the vacationing team member(s). Taking time off is essential, but many employees don’t take time off because they fear an overstuffed inbox on return. Give your employees peace of mind that there won’t be excessive catch-up from being away when they return. – Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.

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