Image from TheSelfEmployed.com
According to ACAS, half of UK employees don’t take all of their annual holiday allowance. Even when people do take holiday, 44% work during vacation time.
The reasons ACAS cite make sense, sadly. Fear of falling behind, unable to switch off, and not having a job to return to.
But holiday time is vital to a good work-life balance, if we can still use that concept. It helps prevent burnout and stop us becoming demoralised.
So what can you do to ensure you switch off properly while on holiday this summer?
1) Prepare properly
You know in advance when you’re going on holiday, and so does your boss. Your colleagues and direct reports probably do, too. So prepare properly, work out what you will need to hand over, what can wait until you get back (not so much that you come back to a stuffed inbox, though!), and what you need to tell any clients.
This will help avoid any panics in the last week before you go, but also help you relax while you’re away, knowing you did what was necessary to allow yourself to switch off.
2) Hand over properly
Where you need others to cover your work, do proper handover sessions so they know the current status of jobs, what will be expected of them, and any potential challenges they may come up against, plus the solutions to those challenges. Regularly-updated handover documents/cover plans are good for this.
3) Set expectations
Around a fifth of vacationing employees have been contacted by a colleague, but how often was this actually necessary?
Unless you own the company or you’re quite a senior manager, it’s unlikely that they’d ever actually need to be contact you when you’re on holiday. If you’ve handed over properly, then your colleagues left at the office should be able to handle everything. If you’ve been interrupted on previous holidays, your boss will hopefully be understanding if you ask politely for it not to happen this time.
Even if you are the owner or a director, the only time you’d really need to be contacted was in a true catastrophe such as the office burning down, an employee dying (God forbid), a police raid or a serious IT breakdown. Make this clear before you go.
Other than your phone, do you really need to take your iPad or laptop on holiday with you? If you really do want to, to read the paper or watch iPlayer, it’ll take more discipline not to do any work. If you have a separate device for work, leave that at home or even better, locked in your office drawer (locked being essential!).
I know of one small company that has a Facebook Messenger group for all the 12-odd staff. When a person is on holiday, the owners remove that person from the group until they return (including themselves when they are away). A great idea.
You’re not indispensable. The company will crack on without you, and when you get back you’ll likely slot back in with no worries.
Even if you don’t, well, that’s life. You move on, there will be other opportunities out there. When you get older, you’ll be happier if you can say to your spouse “Remember our great holiday in Mauritius in 2019, when we chilled the whole time?” than “Remember 2019 when I only took 8 days’ holiday all year, we went to Jersey* and I worked the whole time?”
* Not to knock Jersey, I’m heading there with my family in September, so that’s why it came to mind!
Here’s to a great summer holiday for you!