It’s that time of year when many of us are looking forward to our summer vacation. A time to relax with family and friends or go off and pursue a passion.
However, for some people, the thought of taking time off work can create a great deal of stress. On the website Be Well At Work, Suzanne Gelb, PHD, JD, points out some reasons why they might feel this way;
- People are afraid of being replaced or they’re afraid of their work piling up while they’re gone.
- By taking vacation time they worry that the boss might think they’re not pulling their weight. They need to keep working to prove how valuable they are to the company.
- They think they’ll miss too much work.
- They’re afraid they’ll get penalized for taking too much vacation time and be passed over for promotion in the future.
It is worth considering that, taking a vacation is extremely good for you—and for your employer, too.
In a study conducted by the Society for Human Resources Management, researchers found that taking time off from work can boost your productivity, engagement, and overall happiness.
But even with all the facts swinging in favour of taking that long-overdue trip, it can still be difficult, at times, to get over your “vacation guilt.”
In a blog entitled "Holiday Vacations: Your Time to Rejuvenate" Robert Half gives some tips for enjoying your time off;
1. Create an action plan
Consider all of the potential projects that may need attention while you’re away. Write down an instruction sheet for those serving as backup so they know what to expect and how to handle specific situations. Also provide the names and numbers of contacts who might need to be reached. If you think someone will need to access your computer or other systems in your absence, speak with your manager or IT support to determine the best way to share security passwords with the person.
2. Spread the word
Give plenty of notice to key contacts that you will be out of the office and let them know who has been assigned as your backup. The more prepared people are for your absence, the less likely you will receive last-minute requests on the way out the door.
3. Wrap up your work commitments
Do your best to keep the last few days before your holiday break free from meetings and non-essential activities. That way, you can concentrate fully on cleaning out your inbox, wrapping up projects and tackling any final assignments.
It sounds obvious, but some workers find it hard to complete every task before breaking up for holidays. Make it your goal to wrap up loose ends before your last day, informing colleagues where you’re at with projects then switching on your out-of-office reply on all devices.
It might mean making a checklist a few weeks before the holidays start or allocating a certain period of wrap-up time each day in the lead-up to your break, but it will be worth it.
4. Prepare for your return
Remember that a key part of vacation preparation is getting ready for the days when you’ll be returning to work. Consider which projects will need immediate attention when you arrive. Also allocate time to check messages and meet with your boss and anyone who served as a backup in your absence so you can get updates on what you missed.
5. Step away from the smartphone
One of the challenges is that most of us use our smartphones to keep in touch with not only our work life, but our private life too, so it’s a slippery slope. Once you’re using your phone, it’s hard to switch the work mode off altogether, so for some people not using it at all is the best option.
If necessary, share your phone number with someone who will use it only in a true emergency - not when an employee has trouble remembering the time-saving Excel tip you shared three weeks ago. Also, resist checking in with the office. The more you stay in touch with work, the less of a break you will have. If you must check email and voice mail, limit it to once a day.
So, whatever way you choose to spend your vacation time, prepare well beforehand, try to leave work behind and think how much more enjoyable it will be, not only for you, but those with whom you share your precious time off.
Enjoy! (and don’t forget the sunscreen)