Work/Life Balance for Managers: Holidays

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Will You Take a Holiday This Summer?

Holidays are happy times. From eating ice creams to riding a donkey at the seaside, family holidays can be more fun than eating a stick of rock. Holidays are essential to your health and should be a priority for all of us. Unfortunately, not everyone takes the leave they should, and it can have negative consequences on their work/life balance.

 

According to the Family Holiday Association, family holidays create our cheeriest memories. Nearly half of the British people surveyed said that their most joyful memory is from a family holiday, while 55% said their holidays produced long-lasting happy memories. The poll of 2,000 adults showed the benefits from the family respite endured long after their return and delivered emotional, psychological, and social benefits.

 

I agree about the advantages of taking a holiday, adding that those taking the time off are also more likely to mind their work/life balance, a concept getting a lot of press lately.

 

How Do Managers Manage Work/Life Balance?

Having work/life balance has many obstacles. The ubiquitous presence of email and access to work files from anywhere blurs the line between what are work hours and life hours. In many ways, the manager has to ‘just say no’ to work when they are tending to their lives. Other obstacles, like staff reductions as a result of the economic climate, and a lingering sense that the economy is still recovering from the Great Recession have created an environment that doesn’t foster work/life balance. Everyone wants work/life balance, but they don’t want to take the risk of seeming uncommitted to their career by creating it.

 

Managers often feel they have a different responsibility than their direct reports. New managers, in particular, fear that time away from the office leads to being “out of the loop”, and think that long hours are part and parcel of building a career. Both are valid concerns and have at least some basis in truth.  Quoted in Fortune, Robert Wahbe, co-founder and CEO of Highspot (a software company) said, “No leader I’ve ever met works 35 hours or 40 hours during the growth part of their career.”

 

Taking a Break That Doesn’t Break You Upon Return

So…will managers take a break? Whether or not they will, I couldn’t say. However, I can say that they should, despite any concerns they have, valid or not. A few workarounds can help facilitate this crucial break:

 

  1. Managers must form a team built on trust. If you have a team that feels they can trust you, and that you trust in return, whether or not you are at your desk should not change the way work is done.
  2. Managers must learn to delegate. Managers can’t (and shouldn’t) do everyone’s job. Delegating work according to ability and expertise is an excellent way to free up your time for other tasks—like a week in Mallorca!
  3. Managers should plan ahead…way ahead. Holiday is on everyone’s mind, so work with your team to coordinate schedules. If you have conflicts, work on a solution for it weeks ahead of time to alleviate stress. And perhaps most crucial of all, carve out time off for yourself as well.
  4. Managers should communicate expectations. No one should wonder what they should be doing while you are on holiday. Each team member should have clear instructions on what you expect while you are away, as well as when you return.

 

Many of us daydream about our holiday plans. Depending on how you manage your work/life balance, these musings could either be soothing or stressful. However, by building a foundation of trust, delegation, planning and communication, you can get the break you want and that your well-being needs.

 

Enjoy your break, and safe travels!

 

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Andrea Gregory, MBA, is the founder and Managing Director of People Business, a team of HR Consultants that work with an extensive network of human resources, management and training and development specialists. For over 15 years, People Business has provided practical and professional support to help you achieve the best possible results.

 

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Sources:

Packham, Amy. “Family Holidays Are The Source of Happy Memories, And The Benefits Don’t Stop After You Come Home.” Huffington Post

Vanderkam, Laura. “Does becoming a manager spell the end of work-life balance?” Fortune