A critical part of creating a healthy, growing business is intentionally caring for your team. When your team is well cared for, they can in turn do good work that serves your customers and keeps your business thriving. This means that each person on your team needs to have time away from work, where they are able to rest and be completely disconnected. While it might sound counterintuitive, not thinking about work is actually one of the ways to be better at work. Creating a vacation policy for your team ensures your employees all have sufficient time away from work and are able to do this without hindering fellow employees or customers.
Creating a Vacation Policy for Your Team
Communicate Expectations Clearly
Most issues involved with time off have to do with a lack of communication. Leaders haven’t communicated to their team exactly what is expected, or listened to them to find out their preferences and cares. Employees haven’t communicated with fellow team members about their time away. Avoid problems like these by sufficiently communicating with your team everything they need to know about their vacation time:
- Make it clear you want your team to take time away for their mental and emotional well being. Time away from work is good for the health of every one of your team members, which means it’s good for your business.
- Clarify how much “time off” each person has. Some businesses give everyone a standard two weeks off, while others have an “unlimited” vacation policy as long as employees stay on top of their work load without taking advantage of fellow teammates and customers.
- Remind everyone the importance of communicating with their team before they are gone. Communication is key for pretty much everything, but it is especially important when teammates are going to be out of the office.
Define What “Away” Means
There are different types of ways to be “away” from the workplace, especially as our digital age makes remote work even more possible and accessible. Go over these with your team and provide them the necessary tools they need to be connected when they are working away from the office, as well as tools that make it clear when they are completely disconnected. Here are some of the terms your team can use to describe their time away from the office.
- Working remotely: Team members are working from somewhere other than the office, but the expectation is that they have the same level of accessibility they would in the workplace (same hours, same contact via Slack, Zoom, etc.).
- Working on the road: One of the great things about the internet is it makes it possible to work from anywhere, even when traveling. If a teammate is traveling but not taking actual vacation time, it can be expected that they will maintain some levels of connectivity. Perhaps they prefer text or phone calls while traveling, or they just need to let teammates know they might be a little slower to respond than usual, but will still respond by the end of the day. (These are just examples. Your team will be able to determine what works best for your business.)
- On vacation: Vacation time should be understood as completely disconnected from work. Your employees deserve a decent amount of time off each year, and they also deserve to be able to enjoy that time without emails or Slack messages about work.
Find a Tool for Requesting Time Off
We mentioned above the importance of communicating clearly with your team about the expectations around their vacation time. But part of establishing and maintaining that clarity is creating a procedure everyone can follow to ensure time off is enjoyable for whoever is away and not a hindrance for those teammates who are still working. We highly recommend finding a shared tool that helps you manage time off. We personally use Centreli and have had really great luck with it, but there are dozens of tools on the market to meet your needs and budget.
Regardless of what you choose, a shared tool makes it easy to see who is gone and when. This tool also provides a way to quickly and clearly see who is taking off too much time and which teammates haven’t taken enough time away from work.
Set Your Team Up for Success While You’re Gone
One of the most important components of a vacation policy is creating a process to ensure no work falls through the cracks whenever one of your teammates takes a vacation. Here are some things you will want to include in your process:
- Communicate with your team and your customers at least two weeks in advance (and do this before you leave as well).
- Check your calendar for any important meetings or deadlines that would require your work or input.
- Prepare any materials that might be necessary before you’re gone.
- Set up an email autoresponder or voicemail letting people know you are gone and who they should communicate with in your stead.
Vacation is a crucial part of caring for your team well so that they have the rest, energy, and creativity they need to do good work. Creating a vacation policy makes it even easier for your team to take time away from work because they know exactly what is expected of them and how to set their team up for success in their absence.
Want to learn more about building a strong team to care for your business? Download our free business growth guide below!