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Keeping it “Business as Usual” When Employees Vacation

If you run a team, department, or even a company you know that vacations are the best way to avoid employee burnout. Summer is one of the most popular times for travel in the US, and many of us take paid vacation time in order to travel, spend time with family and friends, or relax at home. Unfortunately, many businesses don’t have backup plans to provide extra coverage while employees are tanning on the beach or hiking through the Grand Canyon. If your office or department doesn’t have a backup plan in place, then vacationing employees are probably required to complete all work before vacation or immediately after they return. This lack of planning leads to added stress and can undo all of the health benefits that work breaks provide. Vacations and absences can have an even worse impact on your business.  When employees are out of the office and no one else handles their responsibilities, all work stops. Entire projects may come to a halt, customers may have complaints which go unaddressed, and every day processes will begin to fall apart. In the worst case scenario, you may lose customers, halt your cash flow, and discover that expensive mistakes are being made. How can you balance the need for employee rest and relaxation with the needs of your business? It’s like the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared. The reality is that in addition to planned vacations, your team members may also have unplanned absences from work at times due to illness or personal circumstances. If you prepare in advance, you’ll never be caught without adequate coverage in every department. Here are a few preparation tips to help you develop a plan to protect your business while your employees are out of the office:
  • Set up partnership teams for employees, so that in case of an absence or vacation, there are at least one or two employees who can do their job, handle correspondence, and cover the work during an absence.
  • If a vacation is planned for an employee in a customer-facing position, decide which employee or manager will cover communication during their absence.
  • Ask the vacationing employee to call and email important clients directly to inform them when they will be out of town, and to give the name of the team member who will be handling the project in their absence.
  • Have all employees set up a unique vacation email auto-response message which allows them share when they will be back in the office, and who to contact in their absence.
  • Schedule deadlines for a few days before an employee leaves for vacation, and a week or more after they return to reduce their stress before and after the trip.
  • Work with other teams or departments to share work in order to reduce stress in individual co-workers
  • Be sure to accommodate employees who have taken on extra work responsibilities so they aren’t burdened with handling 2 jobs at the same time.
  • Have weekly meetings so everyone is up-to-date on the status of projects and clients, allowing employees to cover for one another using updated information.
  • Make sure the entire team works together during vacations to keep the department moving forwards. Don’t rely on or burden a single person, expecting them to cover for everyone.
If you take a few minutes, assess the responsibilities of your team, and create backup plans to ensure that the vacation plans or illnesses don’t bring the company to a halt, you’ll never be caught unaware or unprepared. Start today by making sure employees are trained to do each other’s jobs, share information, and can get access to systems if they need it. Make sure communication lines are open, and that all members of your team are kept informed with status updates. If you are prepared for the worst case scenario, you’ll never be caught off guard. Article by Adina Rubin, Content Writer at Billtrust

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