Vacation Planning for Your Team

December 14, 2021

Author: Staples Professional Inc.

Planning to take a vacation can be stressful for both an employee, and an employer — from the administrative tasks associated with booking airline tickets and hotels, to preparing a dossier for the team to support in covering off on tasks while an employee is soaking up some sun. According to the 11th Annual Expedia Vacation Deprivation Study, 83 percent of Canadians value a vacation, but tens of millions of vacation days are left untaken each year.

Looking to make the pre-vacation planning easier for all? Use the below as a guide to help you and your team plan for vacations this holiday season and beyond.

Have meetings before employees leave

Take the time to sit down with employees who are heading out on vacation and make a list of their upcoming deadlines, essential tasks and pending projects. You want to make sure that during their time-off nothing goes astray. Get to know where all the important information is and have all the relevant contact information available. Jessica Narwani, a Halifax-based human resource consultant, recommends creating a cheat sheet for employees that is standardized across the company to help everyone prepare for vacations. It can ensure that the team on the ground has everything they need.

Second in command

“Always establish a second in command,” says Narwani. Who will take over someone’s responsibilities while they’re out of office? How can someone’s responsibilities be delegated while they’re away? By figuring out how to answer those questions and give that direction, there won’t be a mountain of unanswered questions and projects on hold waiting for the vacationer upon their return.

Everyone take time off

A company-wide shutdown may not be possible but think about at least shuttering entire departments for a week at a time. This gives the team a chance to really check out — and no one is left picking up slack.

Plan together

Since we work as teams, it makes sense to tackle vacation planning as a team. Rather than relegate it to a single decision-maker, consider creating a process whereby the team has visibility to who is requesting vacation when. If the team feels like they came to the decisions collectively, there is more likelihood that they will step into things to make them work.

Institute equality in the hierarchy

In many organizations there is a hierarchy when it comes to requesting and being granted vacation time. Around the holiday season, it can be delicate to maneuver. “To create a level playing field,” suggests Narwani, “build a list of employees by choosing names out of a hat. Moving down from the first person on the list, that is the order in which vacation requests can be made for more popular times in the year. The following year, move the top two to the bottom and relish in the rotation.”

Take your own time off

As a manager, it’s important to set the standard and show your team and the people you manage how key vacation is to overall health and work productivity. By not taking vacation you are playing into the idea that working longer hours and more than everyone else is what’s valued.

Return to work

And finally, Narwani emphasizes that transitioning back to work can be just as important to continued productivity as time away. Remember, coming back from some r&r isn’t always a smooth reentry. Let your returning employee know that you understand how overwhelming it can be, and give them space to take a couple of days without back to back meetings to get the low-down on what went down while they were out. This will give them the support and time they need to step smoothly back into the swing of things, rather than running to catch up.

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