Is vacation a thing of the past? Watch for staff burnout

Two new surveys show that taking vacations to get away from it all could be a pipe dream. That’s bad news for already stressed-out IT departments. 

Staffing agency Robert Half recently found that only 39% of employees take their allotted vacation time each year.

Of those who didn’t:

  • 38% said that they were trying to save days in case they were needed later
  • 30% said they had too much work to do and didn’t want to fall behind
  • 12% didn’t like taking vacation, and
  • 10% don’t get paid vacation time.

It’s not just a problem for staffers. Managers are also failing to get their vacations in this year.

When asked in a separate survey about their latest vacation by OfficeTeam (another Robert Half company), senior managers were also not thrilled with the experience. Managers reported they:

  • didn’t take enough time off (34%)
  • couldn’t relax or take their minds off of work (25%), and
  • checked in with the office too much.

(A few respondents – 7% – actually reported that they felt they didn’t check in with the office enough while on vacation.)

Vacations can stave off burnout

Working in IT isn’t easy, and it isn’t for everybody. It’s a high-stress environment.

But if you don’t want to lose employees to burnout, it’s important to prepare staff so they and you can take full advantage of vacation time.

  • Show it’s OK. Make sure your staff knows it’s expected that they can take their vacations with as little office checking-in as possible.
  • Adjust workloads. Try to schedule lighter workloads for the day before you or your staffers are scheduled for a vacation. This will allow time to tie up any loose ends so that no one needs to be bothered during the vacation itself.
  • Establish a checking-in policy. If workers don’t have to check in at all during their time off, let them know that. Some may assume they should still keep up on email or other routine work tasks, so let them know if they can put away the phone for the whole vacation.
  • Cross-train. Most staffers have one or two areas that they’re the go-to experts on. Make sure they pass that information along to others in the department regularly (or put it in a knowledge base) so it’s less likely they’ll have to worry about taking time off.