Help! My team are on annual leave

By Robert Half on 5th July 2017

When professionals take holidays, it can be a tough time for businesses, as the majority of your workforce will be departing for holidays at some point. Yet this can't be an excuse for offering a reduced service or delivering less than your best to customers and clients, no matter the time of year. Knowing how to manage a team when people go on annual leave is vital for keeping productivity high and from stopping projects from being completed.

So what can you do to ensure projects run smoothly when your team is preparing to take annual leave? And since rest and recreation is essential for a person's long-term mental and physical health, how can you make sure departing employees can go away feeling confident they won't come back to chaotic scenes? Here are a some tips on how to manage a team if people are taking their annual leave:

Plan ahead

If a person's work has to be divided between others when they are away, then this should be dealt with in advance. It means that for every person heading away, proper handover notes can be provided to ensure everyone is adequately briefed on what needs to be done. Getting this done early also means the departing colleague is available to answer any questions that might crop up while they are away. It ultimately makes their absence far less stressful, as your remaining team will know their responsibilities and no one will notice any difference or drop in service standards.

Bring in temporary resources

Skilled temporary professionals are ideal for covering employee holidays and providing skilled help on delivery key projects, as they have the knowledge and expertise to hit the ground running. Instead of taking weeks or months to hire, they only require a few days to get up to speed. This gives you and your team confidence that any current projects can be completed on time and to the required standard. By bringing in temporary professionals, the burden on your employees is eased, so they can continue with their own jobs without worrying about covering colleague's work. It also offers a chance to expose employees to skills and knowledge that may otherwise would not have been available.

Provide training

Throughout the year with employees taking their annual leave, often someone may need to cover their workloads. A solution to this is to provide training to help cover certain responsibilities where applicable. This gives employees a great insight into what colleagues do and it also offers them a career development opportunity to learn a new skill. Giving your employees training not only upskill them, but gives them familiarity with colleagues responsibilities which means they can step in seamlessly when a person they work with is absent or on holiday.

Out of office messages

If your team are emailed and phoned on a regular basis, have them set up an out of office message. It’s important that they include who should be contacted in their absence and how long they will be away for. This stops anyone internally or externally getting frustrated at the lack of a response from your team and means everyone is kept in the loop.

Encourage staff to use their holidays

There are plenty of opportunities for employers to encourage their teams to take time off. If your employees are concerned about their workloads, offer them support so they do not feel guilty about taking all their entitled annual leave. It’s important that you promote a culture where it's acceptable to go on holiday and you'll have a more productive and fulfilled workforce as a result.

Planning in advance enables your business to cover holiday absences smoothly and decide who is going to cover projects and whether you need to bring in temporary employees. And if your departing employee can go on holiday, being able to relax and genuinely enjoy their time away, it's a win-win scenario all round.

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