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The Journal Gazette

  • Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette Lisa Green 

Friday, May 19, 2017 4:50 pm

Note to managers: Vacation is vacation

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

If they haven't already, many managers are about to start the juggling act to cover the workload during the peak spring and summer vacation period.

Hyatt-Fennell Executive Search, based in Pittsburgh, offered some "what not to do" tips through an email this week. Don't:

* Discourage employees from taking vacation, even jokingly.

* Give employees assignments to work on. "A vacation doesn't mean a remote office," the email said.

* Call them while away. Emergencies do come up, but proper planning can help alleviate the need to bother staff unnecessarily. Hyatt-Fennell suggests asking the employee to create a synopsis of current projects, including alternate contacts and schedule a meeting to go over it before their vacation.

* Fill their inbox while they are gone. "A great way to immediately spike the stress levels that vacation abated is by coming back to a burgeoning inbox," Hyatt-Fennell said. "Instead, start a document with items you'll need to go over with them.... Have a meeting once they are back to go over the list."

* Forget to ask about their trip. Central to fostering a culture that supports vacations is your reaction, the email said. It suggests managers let employees know they're genuinely "glad they got a chance to recharge."

During a telephone interview, Hyatt-Fennell partner Cheryl Hyatt said calling employees on vacation is a common problem, along with sending them off with small assignments.

"I think a lot of employers still tend to do that because they see that as an opportunity for employees to do something, maybe research-wise, that they wouldn’t necessarily do at their desk," Hyatt said. But employees "really need to unplug."

And what if a vacationing employee decides to communicate with a manager while they're supposed to be taking time off? Hyatt, whose firm also has offices in Denver, Colorado, and West Palm Beach, Florida, thinks managers can gently discourage that.

"What I tell them is if they’re going to reach out to me," she said, "I want to see photos of them having fun."