A Little R&R is Necessary for Bosses and Employees
My wife and I recently returned from a relaxing vacation in Tennessee with family. It was made relaxing in part due to poor internet reception. Instead of being on our phones and tablets, we read, played cards, hiked and napped.
We also intentionally avoided any emails or texts pertaining to work.
Unfortunately, for many Americans, vacations aren’t as relaxing as they should be, largely thanks to cellphones. Business leaders, especially, can fall into the trap of staying connected to their businesses, to the point that they seem to have simply traded their normal workspace for a more scenic one.
But it is important for physical, mental, emotional and even spiritual health to occasionally draw a line that technology and the demands of work can’t cross.
Often, though, drawing that line and then sticking to it is difficult. That’s where a life coach can help develop goals, strategies and accountability.
Here are a few things to consider when cutting the technology link between you and your business when you’re on vacation.
Understand the benefits. As much as we’d like to think otherwise, our bodies and minds are not perpetual motion machines that churn out our best day after day. We not only need good rest at night, but we occasionally need a week to recharge. Staying connected short circuits that. But when we truly get away from the business for a week or two, we find that we return with renewed energy, new possibilities to solve problems and good — possibly brilliant — ideas for the future.
Develop a business or team that can operate without you. Yes, you’re important, but if you’re so vital to the continued success of the business that you can’t be gone for a week, you’re shaving the chance of success far too thin. Developing trusted assistants and a robust business plan is part of running a successful business. Not only will that allow you to get away for much-needed recharging of your own, it also inspires confidence in your team that will bring out the best in them.
Create a code word for emergencies. Of course, emergencies do come up. You can create a code word a trusted employee can text or put in an email to someone else you’re vacationing with so you’ll know to check in. But make sure the employee understands that it has to be a real emergency, like a fire or tornado, and not just that the office is out of coffee filters and he wants to know how many to order.
Relax. Sometimes, especially for Type A personalities, vacations can become so packed with destinations and activities that it feels like they need a vacation from their vacation. Create space for yourself to just sit at the beach, hike up a mountain or curl up in a chair with a good, non-business book.
On the flip side, business leaders can often create stressful vacations for their employees. Some even predicate that an employee can have time off only if he or she promises to keep a cellphone close at hand. Even if you don’t make that a demand, the temptation to keep sending texts and emails can be strong. While your intention might be to simply keep them “in the loop,” those notifications can make the employee feel that he or she must respond or the job could be in jeopardy.
Here are a few things that you can do to draw the line for your employees when they’re on vacation.
Encourage them to disconnect. If you advise them that you don’t expect anything from them during their vacation — in fact, communicate that you’ll be disappointed if they respond to anything — they will be able to ignore business communication without feeling guilty.
Think ahead. Since vacations are almost always planned months in advance, take time before the employees leave to catch up on everything they’re doing and where to find information you might need in their absence. If you feel the need to keep them in the loop on projects, set up a temporary email account to send the information to that they can access when they return. Keep in mind that just because you’d like to have information from them right away, even when they’re on vacation, you are seldom facing issues that can’t wait a few more days until they return.
Set a corporatewide no-contact policy. Not only should you not be contacting an employee on vacation, but you should ensure that no one else in the company will do so, either. Working employees should be encouraged to not disturb their vacationing colleagues — not even when it’s simply work gossip.
Drawing the line between work and vacation is increasingly difficult to do in our smartphone age, but that also makes it increasingly important to do. As a leader, set the tone by making sure you take your contactless vacations (it may be that the employees left behind will enjoy a sort of vacation from you!) and insist that your employees take their full vacation time. You’ll find that not only can the business continue to run while people are on vacation, it will actually begin to thrive when people have recharged themselves.
If you need help in implementing a technology-free vacation, a life coach can help you develop and set those boundaries.