Why Summer Vacation is Serious Business

Young female professional working in the office during summer

Anyone sending emails after a certain time before a long summer weekend (Happy 4rd of July!) will no doubt notice one thing: very few people will be answering. 

Expect the OOOs to start raining down like cereal under a child’s car seat. 

Shades of things to come as the office shifts into summer mode. 

Lest you think summer vacation is a no-brainer; it’s not. In a normal year, July and August don’t just make up vacation season – they’re also your figurative half-time, the mid-year breather when people recharge before the third- and fourth-quarter-push. And this is no normal year. Employee burnout is already fueling employees’ entry into The Great Resignation. A summer without time off may be the proverbial tipping point taking people from, “Maybe I should find a new job” to “I quit!” 

So before plowing ahead with summer as if it’s any-old season, remember what a neuropsychologist told the New York Post – “Workers become better workers and better at their jobs if they really take the time off” – and heed some mindful tips for summer survival. 

Tell people to go away – and mean it: The dreaded “S” word – shaming – has long been associated with vacations. But people who don’t feel like they can vacation won’t vacation. “Your productivity and happiness suffer over the long term,” says the above neuropsychologist, “because the reset button that vacation is supposed to hit never gets touched,”

Watch your deliverable dates: Major deadlines scheduled on the tail end of a holiday hang over employees like a rain cloud before a storm. Not exactly the recipe for leisure. Unless it’s attached to an immovable force (and there are those), look at the calendar, and try to give people a buffer. 

Reward the hearty: Immovable summer deadlines (see above) mean hearty souls are toiling while friends and colleagues are away. Smart employers can even turn those occasions on their ear. Give a break to those holding down the fort: dial back zoom meetings; designate a summer-long “Forget Meetings Fridays.” Talk about a vacation! 

Coordinate coverage: The best way to ensure people can really check out is to make sure they know their responsibilities are covered. And that requires a plan. For their sake, and your customers’ (did you know Salesforce says 66% of consumers are likely to switch brands if they feel forgotten?), don’t leave delegation to chance. 

Hold the finger wagging: If people must check their email while away, let them. But don’t judge or berate them. Some people just relax better if they know their hard-won accounts haven’t gone up in flames. That said, seeing them on line is not permission to pull them into a half-day meeting on business plans.   

Here’s one final fun fact: the pandemic already has people rethinking their jobs (see Great Resignation, above) meaning summer’s unrested (and unsatisfied) may become your unoccupied workstations in the fall. Then you’ll not only be losing good workers; you’ll also be paying mightily in cash for all those vacation days they didn’t use when they could.  

Happy Summer!

Written by: Lisa Oppenheimer

June 30, 2021

About the Author

Lisa Oppenheimer at Bright Horizons

As Director, Brand Storytelling at Bright Horizons, Lisa writes “from the trenches” about the real life challenges of people in today’s workplaces: from the tensions of being a working mother, to working with millennials in the digital age, and everything in between. With a career ranging from freelance to full-time, Lisa brings a diverse employment background to her perspective.