Let holidays be holidays


Image by davidte1968 via Flickr

Are you managing staff holidays properly? Alison Blackhurst makes it clear that if your staff can’t recharge on holiday, then you’ve failed as a manager

It’s that time of year again. The days are getting longer, the sun finally seems to have some warmth in it and managers and employees are thinking about their summer holidays.

Annual leave is important for the health of organisations: it allows staff to refresh their bodies and minds, and avoid the negative effect on performance caused by working without breaks. But it’s crucial holidays are handled properly. A good manager makes sure that employees’ breaks are exactly that: a break. If employees’ holiday homes are merely remote offices in the sun, the manager has failed.

Staff who take their laptops and BlackBerry with them and respond to work emails are not switching off. In fact, such an existence may actually be more stressful than being in the office. To ensure that staff are afforded a proper break, managers must plan properly. Encouraging staff to take their holidays is a double-win.

To help stretch holidays across the year, you might want to consider having some clear rules in your contracts or staff handbook as to how and when holiday can be taken.

These could include:
• staff taking a proportion of their leave in each quarter
• reserving some leave for annual closures at a time when you are not busy
• authorising holidays before staff make any holiday bookings
• all employees complete a holiday request form

Make sure that your rules are consistently applied and known to all employees in advance – thus avoiding the dilemma of what to do when an employee has booked a holiday prior to asking for time off at an inconvenient time.

Finally, think about your employees’ return to work. Do you really want your staff stressed out, returning to hundreds of unanswered, unwanted or out-of-date emails? Consider auto-forwarding them while the employee is away, or even turning them off – so your people can return to their desks happy, clear of mind and ready to go.


How about this.  Most people when they put out of office on say they'll be away for x number of days, but there must still be a temptation to read/respond.

Instead, as a company wide policy, change all out of office emails to say something like "I am on holiday until xxx, upon my return all emails will be deleted.  If it is urgent please contact xxx or alternatively email me again upon my return".

It sends a clear message to the sender that they aint gonna get anything from you for that period of time.  Simples.