MANAGING TIME OFF IS A TEAM EFFORT

Most companies have vacation policies that grant employees a defined number of paid vacation days per year, which everyone can take as they want. It’s great, except that we have to make it work for everybody...

Have there been times when you freaked out when your teammates contemplated their next vacation? You’re already overworked and you know that when they go on vacation, this means that you will get to do their job in addition to yours. Similarly, have you thought about the impact of your last vacation on them?

The best teams work collaboratively. Team members trust each other and are interdependent. If one person takes a vacation, the entire team needs to make adjustments; sometimes these adjustments are difficult if they are not carefully planned — because we know that the team is already stretched thin and that something important must be delivered on schedule. 

We know that nobody can work indefinitely without taking time off to recharge. So who can say if and when is best for someone to take time off? My response is that like teamwork, vacation is a team effort that should be designed and potentially scheduled with the manager and all the team members. Your going away for days or weeks affects your team; therefore checking with your teammates and giving them a time to think about it and prepare for it, is teamwork. Your teammates, like your manager, will certainly respect your need for rest and time-off as they too will need rest and time-off.

As managers design jobs and teams, it’s key to embed breaks and out of office time within the work design. These decisions are best left to the teams. Managers should focus on observing, listening and adapting this design in order to optimize support for their team when one member goes on vacation or another one longs for one.