Maintaining Office Productivity During Vacation Season

A good boss encourages employees to take time off. It’s that simple. Piling the work month after month on a team will inevitably backfire and, at some point, start to severely diminish office productivity.

A vital part of a healthy work-life balance, vacations let staff relax, recharge their minds and bodies, and renew their motivation for the job. A long break from the daily grind results in more productive employees and staff who are better able to handle daily stress. Indeed, more than half of executives polled by our company said workers are more productive after coming back from a vacation than before they left.

But encouraging vacations doesn’t mean the workload doesn’t still have to be addressed. Managers need to keep operations running smoothly and office productivity high, especially during summer vacation time when teams can find themselves short-staffed. The following tips can help businesses ensure that nothing gets overlooked, and that remaining staff aren’t overwhelmed with picking up the slack.

Map out vacation days

One way managers can avoid leaving work undone and possibly having something fall through the cracks is to ask workers to request vacations at least a month in advance. Better yet, if a team is small enough, vacation times can be put on one calendar to ensure everyone won’t be planning to take off during the same couple of weeks. In addition, by having a visual of who’ll be there and who’ll be gone, managers and team members will have ample time to adjust their own schedules to accommodate the extra duties.

A staff meeting is also a good time to remind workers that it may be hard for them to take off during certain busy times, such as right before year-end reports are due, or during major client events or conference planning times. Getting this information out early can mitigate conflicts and reduce hard feelings.

Make lists before leaving

Some tasks can wait until workers come back from vacation; other tasks cannot. As part of their pre-vacation prep, staff should be asked to outline what they’re working on, any upcoming deadlines they’re responsible for, and what duties others will have to fill in for while they’re away. They should also jot down important contact information and let others know where to find relevant files. Having an organized written account of active projects helps supervisors manage workloads and plan delivery dates during summer months. Making lists also prompts workers to make sure nothing important is forgotten or left undone while they’re gone. Encourage staff to wrap up as much as they can before they take off.

Divvy up work equally

It’s not fair to ask one person to assume most or all the duties of a vacationing staff member. After all, the person holding down the fort still has his or her full-time job to do. It’s best to divide work among several employees rather than spreading one person too thin. By managing workloads and distributing responsibilities as evenly as possible, managers can ensure office productivity continues — and burnout is avoided — when employee numbers are down.

Get outside help

If several employees are taking time off simultaneously, or if a single worker’s absence would throw off a team’s workflow, managers can consider bringing in interim professionals. Filling the gap with skilled temporary workers not only ensures that tasks get done and deadlines remain on target, but it also prevents existing staff from having to take on too much extra work. Companies that think they can’t afford it should remember that hiring extra staff for a couple of weeks or months is far less costly than suffering staff burnout and a high turnover rate.

Every employee needs and deserves time off as a way to unplug from work responsibilities, recharge physically and emotionally, and return to work full of energy and fresh ideas. To manage workload and keep projects on track during the vacation months of summer, it will take coordination, planning and maybe even a little outside help. But the effort is worth it, and the payback will be happier and more productive employees.

Robert Hosking is executive director of OfficeTeam, the nation’s leading staffing service specializing in the temporary placement of highly skilled administrative and office support professionals. OfficeTeam has more than 300 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at www.officeteam.com. Connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and the OfficeTeam blog.