One Thing Not To Do If You Want Your Employees To Come Back From Vacation – Forbes

Don’t email your employees on their holiday. And better yet, maybe give all of them a four-day weekend—a full week—of email holiday, and commit to not sending any emails from September 4 to 7.

Burnout is real, and if there is one time of the year that it’s relatively feasible to catch up on sleep, get some sun, or curl up with a good book, it’s the week leading up to Labor Day. So especially this year, be intentional about helping your team take a minute away from the constant ping of notifications and the unrelenting deluge of emails.

As Delta infections pick up around the country, vaccination campaigns continue, and the Great Resignation means that our team compositions are changing even if we’re staying put, the pace of change is not slowing down as 2021 winds down. Long-time purpose-driven investor and CEO several times over, John Replogle, points out that “change fatigues people. You have to know how to create calm and create rest stops, pauses to [help your team] avoid burnout.”

There are many ways work has changed in the last year. We are now familiar with zoom fatigue, as well as using our homes as offices, daycares and gyms. Your employees are tied to their devices and easier to reach than ever. But that doesn’t mean you should take advantage of this. The University of California, Irvine researched office workers hooked up to wireless heart monitors for twelve days to understand their various causes of stress. They found that “the longer one spends on email in [a given] hour the higher is one’s stress for that hour”. They also found that this stress created a response where “people answered emails more quickly when under stress but with less care—a text-analysis program called Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count revealed that these anxious e-mails were more likely to contain words that expressed anger.”

In an effort to ameliorate your employees stress, which will in turn benefit their physical and mental wellbeing. Instituting policies such as no email Friday, or periodic breaks like we are suggesting isn’t just a temporary fix for employees. A Harvard Business School professor found that ‘giving a group of management consultants predictable time off from email increased the percentage of [anticipated tenure] from 40% to 58%’. Being intentional about communicating with your team, especially via email which can feel more and more realtime, is important to the health and retention of your employees.


So here are 5 ways to avoid emailing your employees while they’re on holiday. Or during your newly instituted team-wide Email Holiday! 


Send yourself a reminder about the issue via Slack, Teams, or whatever messenger service you use. Taking the burden on yourself shows empathy for your teammates, rather than putting it onto their plate while they’re off. You can revisit your messages when you return from holiday.


Schedule the email for the second day they’re back. Yes, the second day. We’ve all had those first days back – they’re hectic, overwhelming, and slightly depressing as we inevitably wish we were back in whatever vacation situation we had. No matter how much we love our work and team! So yes, schedule the email for the second – or even third – day they’re back and reduce the likelihood you’ll get buried in that initial landslide of catchup.


If you really need something done, maybe it’s worth doing yourself. Having a player-coach mentality where you can both manage a team and get your hands dirty for efficiency sake is a powerful position. While you don’t want to consistently take on other people’s jobs, stepping in to help out once in a while can be both appreciated and a good reminder of what your team is up to.


If the employee points to a colleague who’s backfilling them while they’re gone, maybe they can handle your request without it ever getting to your colleague’s inbox. Check in with the colleague to ensure they can complete the task or at least catch up with the employee when they return.

Do nothing

If it’s really important, you’ll remember your point or request when they’re back in the office. And please revise your definition of important. Sleep and visiting family are important things. So is getting a patient their renewed prescription for critical medication. Proofreading a deck for next month’s pitch can wait.

Not so hard, right? Now that you have the steps, are you going to be a leader who sets the trend of creating an ‘email holiday’ in an effort to build a team that people want to come back from vacation for?

Email us for a free worksheet to start growing purposefully, as a habit, in order to multiply all the ways you can begin to go first. Learn more about my new book, Going First: Find the Courage to lead Purposefully and Inspire Action, here.