The new normal, with all the work from home, lockdowns and unprecedented happenings has left many in the workforce feeling exhausted. With rising work demands and more and more time being spent ‘working’ than on ourselves, employees have ended up getting burnt out. With travel restrictions in place, employees have had to forgo not only their travel, but also their holidays. There are many reasons why an employee won’t take time off – maybe they are hoping things will change and are saving their holiday for a big event, maybe they feel the business can’t do without them. Whatever the reason, taking a break is essential for everyone in the team.
Not taking time off impacts productivity and staff morale, directly impacting your business’s financial liability. Holidays not only benefit your employees but also your business. Tired employees are not at their best and mistakes can happen. By taking a break employees will feel less stressed, more relaxed and ready to give 100% at work again. The responsibility to make sure your team are getting downtime falls on you, their manager. Now we are not suggesting you force them to take a break but encouraging them to see the benefits and preplanning will mean you are never left short in your team.
Start by having an open conversation with your employees about their unused annual leave. Find out if they already have a plan in place. Remind your team about the benefits of time off. Take a proactive stand and urge them to take a holiday. For those that are reluctant, long weekends can be a great way to have a break without eating into all of their annual leave time.
Reassure your team that your business’s current time-off/ leave policy still works and communicate any relevant changes to them. For example, if your travel insurance is not applicable due to the pandemic, make sure your employees are aware before they make their plans. Your communication should include your business’s stance on travel, impact of any governmental border closures and focus upon health official guidelines.
The best way to really make a point is to lead by example. If you are a manager that never takes a day off, employees will feel awkward in asking for time off themselves. Share your plans of relaxation with your team and how you intend on using that downtime to recharge. This also enables a culture where employees feel comfortable asking for leave. People are bound to follow when company policies express and your behaviours demonstrate the benefits of downtime.
Often going on holidays means coming back to a mountain of work. Discuss the tasks that only they can do and will build up while they are away. Delegate and exchange key tasks between team members who are planning go to on leave at different times. Find a suitable solution, one that puts their mind at ease while they’re on holiday.
Ask your employees not to check their mails throughout their holiday. Support them by getting an ‘out of office’ response in place and list another contact that their key clients can get in touch with. Let them know that you do not expect them to be available.
Getting back can lead to added pressure. Avoid lining up new projects and meetings for their first week back. Let them get back into a routine and respond to the emails/calls they have missed. Arrange a debrief meeting when they return, have whoever managed their workload to review the work that was done and hand over any new details.
Look at individual team members and their situations. You might need to provide additional flexibility or informal time off for some members of your team. Perhaps they have to work from home and manage homeschooling or have vulnerable people to support. Explain to the other team members why that’s important and ensure you are showcasing the same amount of personalised consideration for every team member. Reinforce the maxim that people are your business’s strongest asset.