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How Do We Get Employees to Unplug?

We want our salaried employees to truly unplug while on vacation. Many of them seem to feel they are required to "check in" (voice mails, emails) during scheduled vacation time away from the office. I guess this means they're productive, but what about burnout?

— Worried About the Consequences, HR administrator, automotive, Irvine, California

August 1, 2014
Related Topics: Dear Workforce

Dear Worried:

According to health experts and an 2009 “International Vacation Deprivation” study, vacations can reduce stress and the risk of heart disease, produce a better outlook on life and help employees be more self-motivated — a benefit to both employees and employers. That's one reason employers often institute a "use it or lose it" policy to urge employees to use their allotted time each year.

Health experts point out that being "plugged in" while on vacation can substantially reduce the health benefits of a break, however. So, if your employees continue to be "plugged in" when they're supposed to be enjoying the surf, neither they nor your business will reap the benefits they should. You should also be concerned that if employees can't completely let go of work while they are out, they lack basic teamwork and are not as productive as you might have thought. Your business is vulnerable if it can't manage an employee being gone for a brief period without checking in.

To resolve these concerns, ask employees why they are afraid to disconnect from work and address it. Make sure leaders don't expect employees to check in or place unreasonable demands on them at scheduled vacation times. If there are other reasons for the practice, consider adopting a policy disallowing communication with work when on vacation. Address teamwork issues through cross training, information sharing and team development to expand team member capabilities and prepare members to cover each other's work during vacations.

SOURCE: Kevin Herring, Ascent Management Consulting, Oro Valley, Arizona, July 5, 2014


 The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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