How to Manage Workloads
During the Vacation Season
Regardless of the industry you work in, the summer months and winter holidays are almost always the busiest periods in terms of vacation time. Come May or Christmas time absence notices start piling up with employees taking time off to enjoy the great summer weather, recover from the stress of work and recharge their batteries, or maybe visit their family and friends.
However, while half the company are enjoying their well-deserved vacation time, work still needs to be done, projects need to be delivered and the business must continue to run. So it usually falls to the remaining employees to pick up the vacationers’ slack.
This increased workload inevitably places more pressure on the employees, contributing to their stress and anxiety and if not managed properly could lead to even more damaging results for the business in the long run.
So how do you find the right balance between making sure that the necessary work gets done without overworking the team, all the while keeping the business operating smoothly? Here are a few tips that should help you manage the extra workload during the vacation season a lot more efficiently.
1. Stay in the loop
If you’re running a smaller business, vacation scheduling is not that big of an issue, but if you’re operating a medium to large sized company staying on top of who’s in and who’s out of office starts to get a bit tricky.
So if you aren’t already, consider investing into an absence management. Not only will it allow you and your team to stay on the same page in terms of staff availability, it can also help you eliminate any scheduling conflicts, so you don’t end up with half your team missing when you have an important project to deliver.
2. Encourage communication
Vacation season is difficult enough as it is, so there’s no need to make it even more challenging with poor communication. When you know there’s a big vacation period coming up with a lot of people going away, make sure that your team members understand how vital it is to keep their coworkers in the know.
You can set up one big meeting, or allow employees to figure things out among themselves. Either option works, as long as everyone is looped in on any ongoing or future projects and knows exactly what needs to be done while their colleagues are out of office.
3. Plan ahead
Vacation season is not a surprise occurrence. You know it’s going to happen, and you know when, so there’s little excuse for not being able to prepare for the upcoming challenges.
Be sure to take time to evaluate the upcoming work scope, review the critical deadlines, and then assign the most urgent tasks to your available team members ahead of time if possible. If the nature of your business does not allow you to plan too far ahead, having even a basic outline could make a huge difference.
4. Focus on important tasks
Work doesn’t suddenly stop when people go on vacation, but when you’re short on hands, trying to get absolutely everything done is not only unrealistic but also unnecessary.
No matter which way you look at it, some tasks are more important than others, and it’s especially true during the vacation season. Decide which tasks are absolutely crucial for your ongoing projects and have your team focus on those first. If you do have any time leftover, you can move on to less pressing matters. If not, well, at the very least you were still able to achieve the most important goals.
5. Establish deadlines
Time is our most precious resource, and doubly so when it comes to working during the vacation season. Which is why sensible deadlines are one of your best tools of getting through it without trouble.
Use them to set clear expectations with your clients as well as your team, and make sure you don’t overcommit. Focus on completing a good amount of work within a reasonable timeframe, instead of trying to pursue a huge project on a tight deadline.
6. Get extra help
Sometimes even the best planning and most hardworking and committed employees are not enough to successfully deliver a project when you’re short on staff.
If you’re concerned about your team’s ability to keep up with the increased workload during vacation time, consider hiring some temps of freelancers to help you ease the burden. Even one extra pair of hands for a few days per week could have a huge impact and allow your employees to breathe a bit easier.
7. Stay calm
When you’re in the middle of a vacation season trying to keep the business running with only a portion of your staff, it can be pretty easy to find yourself overwhelmed and lose sight of the bigger picture.
Needless to say, panic mode is hardly a great way to go about work in these circumstances. So don’t let stress undermine your performance by remaining calm and levelheaded. Thinking clearly will allow you to focus on your goals and come up with a solid plan instead of agonizing over the amount of work that you need to do.
Keeping your business running without hiccups during the vacation season can be pretty tough, no question about it. You have less people, while the amount of work remains the same. It becomes a true balancing act where you try to get everything done without overworking your team. However, with the right approach and some smart planning you should be able to keep your company operating without any major disruptions even with a smaller team.
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