5 ways to create a culture that supports employee well-being and recovery

Summer in Scandinavia means longer days, lighter nights and for many people - time off from work. Traditionally, people work hard all year to get some well-deserved rest during the summer months. Time off from work is essential for people to rest, recharge, and their overall well-being. 

Having a vacation policy is already a standard for many companies, but that necessarily doesn’t mean that the culture or workload enables people to take time off. For some people, leaving work for a vacation can feel difficult and stressful. Many get a sense of guilt, for not being available or for putting their team in a difficult situation. Some are worried about the work that awaits when they come back, checking emails, taking calls, or constantly thinking about work. 

Creating a work environment that truly promotes work-life balance can be challenging. Here are some strategies to foster a healthy and respectful vacation culture within your company:

1. Make it easier to apply and approve time off

When working in HR, addressing inquiries about time and attendance is a routine task. For employees and managers with different areas of expertise, PTO (paid time off) and vacation policies can be a bit more tricky. Lower the discomfort for employees by making it easy to find your company policy, their own vacation balance, and request time off. 

With Alexis, you can even make it possible for managers and employees to see, apply and approve time-off requests directly in Slack or Teams.

2. Set expectations and routines within each team

While some (probably a fortune few) can take time off without concerns about deadlines or frustrated customers and colleagues, many teams need to carefully plan their time off to ensure smooth operations. Having an HR platform where people easily can see upcoming leaves makes it easier for employees and managers to plan, request and approve time off in their teams. Encourage team leaders to have open discussions about vacations with their teams and establish guidelines that suit their specific circumstances.

3. Pre-vacation routines 

Taking time off can feel rewarding, relaxing, and simply put - amazing. However, that is not always the case. Many people struggle with stress, a sense of guilt, or burnout symptoms. Which is not an ideal rundown for vacation.

Communicate and share ideas on how employees and managers can prepare for their planned time off. For example: 

  • Prioritize work by deciding what needs to be finished before leaving and what can be left for later. 
  • Be mindful of your coworker's schedules and avoid sending new requests or projects to your co-workers right before their time off. Nobody wants to leave work feeling that they have unfinished tasks or projects. If you really need something from a colleague, make sure to communicate it early. Don’t leave it until the last minute. 
  • Hand over and delegate tasks before leaving for vacation. Send an email or message to your closest team and manager with a status update on the project you’re working on and delegate tasks that need to be covered by others. By doing this, your team feels up-to-date and knows what is expected of them. 
  • If you or someone in your team can’t go completely offline, decide when and how you can reach each other. You shouldn't work when you’re off, but sometimes fires just need to be put out. To avoid stress, decide how you want your team to reach you when you’re off. 

4. Say goodbye to vacation spreadsheets

Not everyone can or wants to take time off when others do. If your teams are distributed across different countries, it is very likely that they have different cultural and religious backgrounds. 

Being the only one, or one of the few working while others are off can feel lonely, stressful, and challenging. Not knowing who to turn to when you need help, not having someone to brainstorm ideas with, or simply someone to lunch with. Make sure that the people still working have what they need to be able to work smoothly. Ditch the vacation spreadsheets and time spent chasing availability in each other's calendars. With AlexisHR, people can easily stay up to date with who’s working and who’s not.

Extra: integrate AlexisHR to Slack or Teams and let the system automatically share daily or weekly updates about who’s working and not. 

5. Post-vacation routines 

Regardless of how much you like your job, getting back to work after time off can feel dreadful. With good routines, you can lower the stress around getting back to work and the mountain of work that's waiting for you. Give people some time to settle into routines again, catch up with work and get up to speed.

Schedule slots for sorting emails, prioritizing tasks, and getting settled. Encourage managers and employees to do 1-1’s after their vacation. Partly to help them prioritize their upcoming tasks but mainly to check in personally.

These are just a few of the many things you can do to create a healthier approach toward vacation and work-life balance in your company. Would you like to learn more about AlexisHR and how our features can help you work smarter? Book a free demo here or visit our website

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