The last 'long weekend' of the summer is almost upon us and all over the county Labor Day celebrations will be in full force, toasting the end of the season while also honoring the contributions hard working Americans everywhere make to the economy and culture of their hometown, home state and the nation at large.
Sadly, too many employees, despite the fact they are supposed to be enjoying this 'last hurrah' before fall feel they must still be connected to work. More often than not however this is not something they do naturally, it is the result of the culture of the company they work for.
In many companies, supervisors continue checking-in and sending emails in the evening or on weekends, leading their direct reports to believe they need to respond immediately, and adopting these behaviors themselves.
Yet, research has shown over and over again again that workers need frequent breaks and unfortunately, Americans leave a lot of that paid time off on the table every year. It might seem like workers would be more productive if they aren’t using all their vacation time, but in reality, skipping our vacations actually makes us less productive.
To keep employees working to their maximum potential, engaged in their jobs and to protect their physical and mental health they must be encouraged to enjoy and make the most of their downtime — and perhaps it’s fitting to begin with the Labor Day holiday.
Here are just a few ways managers and supervisors can encourage employees to enjoy their paid time off this weekend.
Establish an Email Free Holiday Zone
On paid days off, such as Labor Day, communicate to employees that they should not be working. Tell them to avoid email on those days, but don’t punish them if they don’t adhere to it, just so long as they don't expect coworkers to respond. It may take some time for people to get used to this policy, especially if it’s new or if they came from a different employer who expected them to always be on call
Set-up An Out-of-Office Message
During the days leading up to a paid holiday, send employees an email that includes language for an out-of-office notification — and then tell them to schedule it. This message can be short and sweet, such as:
“[Enter Company Name] will be closed on Labor Day so our employees can enjoy the day with their families. We will refrain from responding to emails or voicemails on that day, but will do so upon our return on Tuesday. Thank you for your patience and understanding.”
Let Your Clients Know You’ll Be OOTO
When a company closes over a holiday, it’s best to communicate this to clients ahead of time so they can plan accordingly. This is especially important if the company will be open on the holiday, but then closed the following day to make up for it. If your workforce knows that clients won't be calling and emailing, they will be less likely to feel obliged to check their phones and emails every hour.
Set a Good Example
This is the most important part of these suggestions. Senior management and supervisors must set a good example for their employees. They shouldn't be sending emails on the paid holiday, and their out-of-office notifications should be up and running.
If supervisors insist upon firing off emails when they are top of mind, they should use the “delayed send” or “send later” feature built into most email clients to hold the messages until the email-free time span has passed. And then get outside and help get that BBQ going, while the sun is still shining and the summer vibe still lingering on.