Companies are now deep into the annual vacation season, when a lot of employees are out of the office. But, at least in the IT department, most of the employees that aren’t present are still doing work.
Many tech workers are either getting ready for vacation or are recently returning from their time off. While it can be difficult to keep efficiency up when employees are absent, managers can at least hope their workers come back refreshed and more productive.
But unfortunately, that’s not the situation for many employees.
More than half (54%) of employees in the U.S. say their boss expects them to work while they’re on vacation, according to a recent survey from Harris Interactive and Ricoh Americas.
IT employees may have it even worse than average, according to an earlier survey from TEKsystems. Among the IT pros surveyed, 67% said their vacations have been interrupted by workplace demands. On top of that, 41% said they’re always expected to be available 24/7, and 80% said their employer makes no changes to ease those demands during the summer months.
How managers can help
Of course, the nature of IT means that some support will always be needed. But failing to give employees a proper vacation can backfire for companies by adding to stress levels and maybe even driving workers out the door and into jobs with competitors.
One way IT managers can help employees disconnect: Clarify expectations.
Many employees will assume they need to be available if their boss doesn’t tell them differently. Be honest, though — if there’s a chance someone will be needed in case of an emergency, it’s important to let the staffer know.
It may also help to avoid sending unnecessary emails to employees while they’re away. Those can give employees the impression that they’re expected to be doing work.
Managers can also help minimize vacation interruptions by making sure an effective back-up plan is in place — for example, training other staffers to handle vacationing employees’ usual duties. That’s also a good idea that can help the department prepare for sick days and other emergencies.