Effective Planning for a stress-free vacation

If I were a medicine man, I should prescribe a holiday to any patient who considered his work important – Bertrand Russel

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The positive impact of vacations needs no reiteration. Vacations are imperative for the wellbeing of both the employees and the organisation. Integral to ensuring work–life balance, breaks and time-offs are essential for the physical and mental health of individuals.

Every organisation has well-documented policies/procedures guiding leave and time-offs. Yet, the fact remains that the summer months, when a large percentage of corporate India goes on vacation, are the times for the management to realign and juggle priorities. Optimal management of resources and workload, challenging even during normal times, becomes especially complicated and demanding during this season. During such times, ensuring that customer relationships, productivity and business do not suffer, while simultaneously keeping the well-being of the staff in mind, can be a daunting task.

However, with a little foresight and pre-planning, it is possible to effectively manage vacation periods so that work does not suffer and deadlines are met, without any last-minute change or cancellation of plans.

Here are a few tips to help your employees take time off, smartly:

Being proactive and planning ahead

This is paramount. Adopting a portfolio approach, along with division of business verticals, with a clear, unambiguous portfolio for each team member, will ensure organisations/team heads can easily determine likely gaps and plug in the same with minimal disruption/dissonance. Plugging gaps often involve some amount of reallocation of work. Knowledge/awareness of the interests, aptitudes and strengths of individual members makes reallocation/delegation of work during vacation breaks easier. Since most vacations are sanctioned well in advance, identifying a suitable, albeit temporary, replacement for a crucial team member beforehand and grooming them with requisite training/knowledge will ensure continuity.

Assigning clear business objectives

Align the teams in a manner that they don’t get affected when people take off on holidays. Definite, unequivocal goals not only enable prioritising of work, but also allow for factoring in for disruptions, if any, which may be caused by vacations. Collaboration and team work are a must, and by getting the team on board, well in advance, through judicious alignment of objectives and priorities, it can be ensured that disruptions are minimal.

Designing roles smartly

Ensure there is back up always, especially in areas considered crucial. The strength of a team lies in its ability to not just fill up for a member’s absence, but also ensure that deadlines are met and the work is unaffected. With cross-functional teams, organisations don’t just fill up gaps, but also challenge employees to push their boundaries with new roles and thereby achieve greater satisfaction at work.

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Anticipating and planning your sales/marketing campaigns in advance

While campaigns are planned and executed with seasons and festivities in view, the same rigour needs to be put in place to account for the summers as well, when there is scarcity of resources. With advanced planning, such campaigns can easily be executed and implemented in a manner that does not affect holiday plans!

Encourage advance planning

Advise team members to not wait till the last minute to apply for leave. Not only are tickets, hotels and other elements booked in advance more competitively priced, but it makes better economic sense for the employees. And what is more, the organisation also has enough time to make necessary arrangements for reallocation of roles and temporary staff, and so on. A rotational, staggered system of leave-taking gives every employee an opportunity to take a vacation when they desire and ensures adequate availability of staff at all times.

Equitable sharing of vacationer’s workload

Preparing for an employee’s absence by ensuring that co-workers/colleagues covering a vacationer’s job have access to relevant files and are aware of the priorities and work to be done, and so on. The replacement employee(s) should be equipped with suitable resources/knowledge. Realigning/resetting priorities is yet another crucial measure if organisations are to work productively without disruptions during summer months.

Vacations and holidays are indispensable, benefiting both the individual and the organisation, albeit with a price in the form of extra workload in the interim. But with some foresight, planning and proper strategies, the period can be easily handled with minimal disruptions. And, when one knows work would not have piled up in one’s absence, getting back to work, especially after a rejuvenating break from the scorching heat, will be equally welcome!

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Suvodeep Das is the Vice President – Sales and Marketing, Sodexo BRS India. He has top-tier Marketing & business experience of over 20 years and leads marketing, communication, new solution development & sales in his current role. Prior to this, he has worked in leadership positions of marketing & product management in global companies, such as Western Union, Unilever & Ogilvy along with large Indian companies, such as Reliance & Marico. He joined Sodexo from an American startup called Greenlight Planet, where he led global marketing & product development. He holds an MBA degree in marketing, and was featured amongst the “Young Marketers of the Year” in Brand Equity (Economic Times) in 2005. He was also among the top 50 Fintech leaders in Asia, in 2016. Suvodeep is an avid follower of Formula 1 and football and loves to travel.

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