Today’s employees aren’t just mindlessly punching the clock. They’re looking for work that has meaning and purpose. They want to be in organizations whose values are in alignment, and where they are able to grow, both personally and professionally.
When they find that perfect fit, they’re often willing to put more time, energy, and effort into their work— including after hours. But this isn’t necessarily a good thing.
Over time, working non-stop will cause even the most enthusiastic employees to experience decreased job performance and, ironically, decreased satisfaction. If you let your best team members burn themselves out, you’ll soon be watching them walk out the door for the next “perfect” opportunity.
To keep this from happening, it’s up to leadership and management to:
- Recognize the importance of down time and the dangers of burnout
- Put systems in place so everyone feels good about taking time off to recharge
Allowing vs. Encouraging
There’s a big difference between having a vacation policy and building a culture where people feel good about using it. So how do you create a culture that doesn’t just allow, but encourages, adequate time off for leaders and staff?
Re-think your paid time off policy – Still thinking in terms of sick time vs. vacation days? It’s time to make a change. If your employees need a day off, it doesn’t matter what for. Combine sick and vacation days into one PTO policy so everyone can take time when they need it.
Try setting a vacation minimum – Does anyone really need to go an entire year without taking a vacation? Is this the way build loyalty and create happy employees? Not likely. Try setting minimum vacation limit, and make sure everyone takes it— including you. It may seem strange at first, but all work and no play isn’t good for your health, your team, or your business.
Make it easy – Employees need to feel okay about taking time off so that they can truly relax while they’re gone. A stress-filled vacation isn’t relaxing, and a crippling re-entry period will quickly wipe away the benefits of even the most reenergizing trip.
Yes, vacation time requires advanced notice, scheduling, and pre-approval. But once it’s on the calendar, it can be planned around. Make sure your employees get additional team and management support to manage workloads before they leave, take care of anything that comes up while they’re gone, and help them get caught up when they return.
Involve the team – Most people are happy to help out when co-workers are gone, especially if they know that the favor will be returned when they’re out and about. Taking on a temporary task or two is a small price to pay for your own blissfully uninterrupted vacation.
Lead by example – You’ve hired great people and trained them well. Now it’s your job to trust them to get things done, whether or not you’re in close proximity. Doing so will not only relieve your own stress, it will show your team you believe in them and empower them to do great things.
Let your employees know you have confidence in their abilities, then prove it by encouraging them to take time off regularly, taking vacation yourself, and letting them take care of business and each other while you’re gone.
Learning to let go
This might be the hardest part of having your awesome team members out of the office. You’re excited (or nervous) about a new initiative, a project milestone, or a big sale.
Newsflash: IT CAN WAIT.
You and your employees deserve uninterrupted time away from work. But if work-related items are constantly popping up in phones, laptops, and alerts, even the most pristine white sand beach can suddenly feel like the office. And that familiar wave of workplace intensity can come rolling right on back. Don’t let this happen to you or any of your hard working team members.
Set up a no-contact rule for yourself and your team regarding the person who is out. If something comes up that can be handled in-house, don’t check in or run it by them. Just make it happen.
If there’s a situation that can’t be handled without the vacationing person, draft an email with the details while they’re fresh in your mind. But don’t fire it off to them. You can schedule it to go out later or send it to yourself and make a note to chat with them about it after they return. Rest assured, even the most demanding client will generally understand the language of “Your account manager is on an Italian wine tour.” You may even build rapport commiserating about how you wish you were, too.
If you build a strong culture that values your employees as more than just worker bees, you’re much more likely to attract the hard-working, fun-loving employees you desire.
And when they do come back from vacation, they’ll be way happier to see you. They’ll also be more relaxed, refreshed, energized, and motivated. Because you gave them the gift of time.
Need a better ROI on your corporate employee benefits? At Raffa, we’re not interested in finding you a policy solution for this year. We’ll create a long-term, employee benefit strategy designed to help you become an employer of choice. Want to build a better future for both your business and your employees? Get in touch with Raffa.
Photo by yarruta