Workplace Trends

Workforce Trends

Two Rules for Helping Your Employees Unplug on Vacation

By Helene Cavalli on July 10, 2013

A recent Lee Hecht Harrison survey revealed that one-third of workers take all of their electronic devices on vacation, while 58% take either a smart phone or laptop. Only nine percent unplug completely. Are employees defining for themselves how pervasive a role technology plays when they vacation? Or are they feeling pressured to stay connected?

For some, staying connected to email while on vacation is preferred. It can help reduce stress by allowing them to proactively manage communications while they are away. But for others, the need to completely unplug and rejuvenate is going to be paramount.

How are you, as a leader, accommodating those employees who need to unplug completely in order to relax and fully reap the benefits of vacation time? If leaders expect employees to return from vacation refreshed and energized, they should first examine their organizational culture and the real (or perceived) pressure placed on employees to remain connected to work – even during a vacation.

Two rules could help you help your employees unplug:

  • Set expectations. Have pre-vacation conversations with team members to review what projects are in play, what’s on the horizon, who’s covering in their absence, what constitutes an “emergency” and how it should be handled, and what their email auto-reply should say. While some roles require a higher degree of responsiveness than others, it’s important that everyone is able to step out of work for a few days and enjoy time off.  A back-up plan should always be in place to ensure coverage.
  • Clarify priorities. Are you sending emails to vacationing team members? If so, stop and ask yourself, “Is this a priority or can it wait?”  Use an email “priority status” flag to help a vacationing employee make decisions as to what needs to be addressed and when.  Being bombarded with emails while on vacation can add a great deal of stress, making it difficult for some employees to fully relax and enjoy their time off.

Employees are not all alike. Take the time to understand what they need to physically and emotionally recharge and – if they need to unplug – set up a plan so that can happen.

2 Responses to “Two Rules for Helping Your Employees Unplug on Vacation”

  1. Steve Thompson

    Spot on! To stay connected or not depends on each person, and what is happening in the workplace.

    The imperative is we as managers know our people and help them to know themselves, and ensure there is thought behind and a plan for the vacation connection.


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