Employee productivity can sometimes take a hit during the holidays. If most of your employees take time off, the skeleton crew left behind may feel overwhelmed or unprepared to assume key responsibilities. Establishing policies to handle this situation can help keep the stress to a minimum.
Here are ways to design effective holiday policies so employees can work smoothly through the absences:
Use Collaborative Software
Many popular project management tools help seamlessly hand off projects back and forth between team members. Whether you use them for day-to-day work or not, you can upload key documents or materials, leave notes to assign tasks, or provide context on each item. That way, no one is left wondering about the status of any project. And because they are cloud-based, your vacationing employees can even quickly sign in to answer a question if there's an emergency with a project.
Document Job Duties
Prior to taking holiday time off, employees should be required to document specific job duties, preferably in a step-by-step sequence, so others can easily understand what needs to be done. Whether on your collaboration software or in an email, the employees who are vacationing should include a summary of their work and its status, the contact information for customers or other key people, and any other information for how to keep the work on track or move it forward.
Leave Detailed Notes
Have soon-to-be absent employees submit a written checklist or series of reminders of anything that won't be covered elsewhere. Having a physical reminder of important details will help everyone else remember the essentials — for example, to check in with an important client. Or, a checklist can explain how to complete a process that the remaining employees may not be familiar with. It may help to have you or another manager sit in on these conversations to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Create Out-of-Office Alerts
Busy employees may forget to do this essential task, so explicitly require vacationing employees to preset their out-of-office email autoreplies and put a new message on their voicemail greetings.
Include a date for their return to the workplace, the name of a person handling their job duties and an indication of whether they intend to check their phone and email messages. This same information should be communicated to any key customers or suppliers prior to their vacation departure.
Keep the Onsite Staff Engaged
Those left in charge may sometimes feel swamped with additional tasks or unable to keep their focus on top-priority responsibilities. To keep everyone working well, check in with your staff on how they're doing and make sure everyone can handle the workload.
Just as importantly, make sure the workplace environment is upbeat and positive. The holiday season can be stressful — particularly if you're the person working while others aren't — but a business owner can set the tone by showing gratitude to those who keep things running smoothly. Thank individuals for their commitment and let them know the company's ongoing success is largely due to their efforts and dedication.