Do Vacations Increase Employee Productivity or Completely Annihilate It?

Summer vacation is in no way, shape or form reserved exclusively for elementary students. Or teachers. Or high schoolers looking for summer jobs. If you haven’t already been overwhelmed by vacation requests, your employees are more ambitious than most! Psychiatrists keep telling us that letting employees out the door to make the most of their accumulated vacation time is a good thing. Clears the mind, prevents burnout, etc., etc. But how do you convince vacation to do what it’s supposed to do and actually increase employee productivity?

Is there any way to keep employee productivity on track when they've been bitten by the vacation bug?

I was reading a blog post yesterday that described the ages and stages of your employees’ vacation. For the week before vacation they’re distracted, finding it difficult to concentrate on the job at hand with freedom right around the corner. Couple that with a lighter workload than usual, since they won’t be around the following week, and you’ve got a notable drop in employee productivity. The next week they’re on vacation and out of the office, and the week after that they spend almost the entire week trying to snap their mind out of vacation mode and back into work mode.

That week-long vacation is going to wind up affecting their job performance for the better part of a month.

What you really need is a fly swatter to nip that vacation bug out of the picture, increasing your employee productivity instead of decreasing it. If you do it right, you may even be able to get them to the point where you hardly notice they’re gone!

If you’ve got a key employee going on vacation, be sure their projects (or certain phases of them) can be wrapped up before they leave. Make clearing their desk a priority. It’s amazing how much faster you can work when you know you’re going to be able to kick back and relax as soon as you’re done!

When another employee is going to be pinch hitting, let the vacationing veteran handle their training. The change in scenery (training instead of working by rote) will help keep their mind on the job, and when they know someone’s going to be taking their place there’s a good chance they’re going to put a little more effort into making sure their replacement doesn’t work any harder than they have to.

As often as possible, try to get employees started on new tasks or projects as soon as they get back. Their minds may be slow getting back into their old routine, but a new challenge makes their mind take a different path. After spending some time on the new and unfamiliar they should have no trouble getting back into the swing of things, and the excitement of a new project will usually compensate for any post-vacation jet lag in employee productivity.

Employee productivity isn’t measured in terms of the quantity of hours worked in most of today’s industries but, rather, in terms of the quality of hours worked. Play your cards right and an employee whose mind is rested, relaxed and ready to go after vacation is going to be put in a better performance all the way around.