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Help your Staff Hit the Ground Running Post Vacation

It’s important for employees to take vacations because these breaks allow staff to recharge both physically and emotionally, disconnect from day-to-day concerns, and return to work rested and refreshed. In fact, more than half of executives polled by our company said workers are more productive after a vacation than before one.

But keeping employees focused on work both before and after their vacation can be a difficult task. The key is planning ahead. The following tips can help ensure employees not only feel comfortable taking time off from work but also are able to hit the ground running as soon as they return:

Be prepared

Helping employees return from vacation starts before they even leave. You need a plan in place so projects run smoothly while they are away. Start by consulting a calendar and noting the busy periods in your department to determine the best and worst times for employees to take vacations.

Ask your staff to organize their vacation schedules well in advance to avoid workload peaks, explaining that everyone’s assistance is needed during those periods to ensure department objectives are met.

Help identify backups

Many employees wait until the last minute to consider the projects that must be addressed while they are away from the office. It’s difficult to think weeks in advance, but putting off the task can cause assignments to slip through the cracks. This is one area where they need your help.

Meet with team members who have upcoming vacations well in advance of their departure dates. Begin discussing tasks that will need to be accomplished while they are away and identify one or two colleagues who can serve as backups. Have everyone involved begin communicating immediately.

Make sure you remain in the loop so that you are aware of the projects the departing employee is working on and who will cover for the person. This will allow you to help address any challenges that arise, even while your worker is away.

Go slowly

Don’t expect an employee to launch in at high speed the first day or two upon returning. As much as possible, give some leeway to allow the person to settle back into work. This means not planning an important meeting the day the worker returns or having a large project waiting for him or her.

In certain instances, it may even be wise to continue having the person’s backup cover his or her duties until the employee returning from vacation can get back up to speed.

Touch base right away

Schedule a meeting to touch base with the employee soon after his or her return. Also invite the person’s backups so they can provide status updates on projects they oversaw while the person was gone. Then, help your staff member refocus and prioritize his or her efforts so the most important or pressing assignments are completed first.

With the proper planning, you can ensure your staff not only feel comfortable taking time off but also are able to return to work recharged and ready to go.


Robert Half International is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 350 offices worldwide. For more information about our professional services, please visit or follow us on Twitter at

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