The United States is among the most vacation-deprived countries in the world.
We earn fewer vacation days than workers in many other countries, and still struggle to use them all, according to Expedia.com®’s 2017 Vacation Deprivation® study. This same study notes that millennials are the most vacation-deprived age group and they’re also the most likely to shorten their time off for their impending workload. It’s not just the millennials who are struggling to achieve work-life balance, though. Nearly half of American workers reported feeling somewhat or very vacation-deprived, and in 2017 they left approximately 462 million vacation days on the table.
Vacations are a necessary part of a healthy work-life balance. Across the board, Americans agree vacations are important for general wellbeing and for feeling more connected to friends and family. On the work front, we all know that time away results in a better attitude when returning to the office, with the added perks of being more focused, more productive, and less stressed. So for all of these benefits and many others, it’s smart to encourage your employees to take some time for themselves. Even a long weekend can be a game changer for their mental and emotional health and wellbeing.
Planning work schedules for summer vacations can be tricky. Despite all the pluses that come with taking time off, the summer season can still be daunting if you’re responsible for juggling those endless holiday requests. Follow these tips to make this vacation season feel like a day at the beach:
- Communicate your vacation policy. It’s never a bad time to remind your employees of your vacation and paid time off policies. While it should have been covered during the orientation process and your employees should also have a written copy of the policy, a refresher is always a good idea. Make sure your employees know when requests are due, how vacation time can be taken, and how disputes will be handled. All of these elements should be incorporated into your vacation policy. Send out an email or bring it up at the next team meeting—however you communicate it, make sure everyone is well aware of your company’s leave policies.
- Give yourself ample time to approve vacation requests. Be sure to set a very specific deadline for submitting vacation requests that gives you enough time to project how employee absences might affect production schedules and delivery dates. It should also allow you time to resolve any conflicts, such as two key employees asking for the same week off.
- Be fair. You can’t please everyone, but you should have a reasonable process by which vacation is granted. Make sure it includes a policy regarding who gets first choice. For example, some companies do this by seniority while others do it on a first come, first served basis. And don’t forget to detail how you will handle disputes, because they will happen from time to time. Whatever vacation approval procedures your organization chooses, they must be applied consistently to avoid perceived or actual discrimination or favoritism.
- Prepare for the absences. If colleagues will cover vacationers’ jobs, make sure those taking time off provide a summary of work in progress, major responsibilities, key contact information, and other pertinent data necessary to meet crucial deadlines. If possible, divvy up vacationing employees’ duties among several colleagues. This will keep one unfortunate person from being inundated.
- Give vacationing employees some breathing room. While most employees go through their emails and voicemails before returning to work, it shouldn’t be a requirement. Try not to schedule meetings for the day they return. Give them a chance to catch up on their work, to address any immediate issues, and to get back into the flow of things.
With some forethought and planning, the summer vacation season at your workplace can go from chaotic to calm. Need some additional guidance creating and administering effective time off procedures for your organization? The HR Team has decades of experience developing HR policies that work. Please contact us to learn more.
About The HR Team: Founded in 1996, The HR Team is a Maryland-based human resources outsourcing firm committed to developing strategic, customized solutions that respond to the unique needs and cultures of organizations of all types and sizes. Available as a one-source alternative to an in-house HR department or on an à la carte project basis, the company’s flexible service models address the full spectrum of HR needs that many organizations struggle to address. The HR Team helps clients achieve their highest level of success by providing value-driven human resources services that leave them time to focus on what they do best: directing business growth and profitability. Headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, the firm serves all of Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia. To learn more about The HR Team, call 410.381.9700 or visit https://www.thehrteam.com/.