Skip to content
Get a demo

The one time leaders shouldn’t communicate: vacation

Around 30% of Gen Z, Gen X, and Millennial workers admit to feeling guilty not working during their vacation time, according to LinkedIn’s Workforce Confidence Index.

  • Why it matters: Not taking the time to rest and recharge can lead to employee burnout — which is becoming a real concern in the workplace, with the American Psychological Association reporting last year that both burnout and stress were at all-time highs. 

It’s up to leaders and managers to not only set the tone on taking a break from communication, but to also encourage employees to take a break, too. Because communicating while on vacation can signal some surprising drawbacks and downsides:

  • Undefined boundaries: While “going above and beyond” on vacation may look hardworking, it questions whether you’re able to set — or keep — boundaries. It can also create an expectation that others should work on their time off.  
  • Time management issues: Being unable to disconnect can lead some to believe that you can’t manage time or projects effectively if you have to work while off. It signals that you didn’t communicate or plan well enough beforehand. It can also be a sign that your team isn’t resourced well enough to cover for you, opening conversations on if new employees or different job allocations are needed.  
  • Unneeded confusion: If you’ve put a plan in place for being out but continue to email, it can sow seeds of confusion. Folks don’t know whether they should continue to move forward with the pre-approved plan or if they should wait for more guidance from you that may or may not be coming. 

You’re better off putting a clear plan in place from the start so you can relax — and so that others know exactly what to do while you’re out of the office. 

Set up a clear out of office plan

Taking time off should be relaxing, and it can be if you communicate ahead of time. That way, everyone gets on the same page, and you don’t have to be in touch unless there’s a true unforeseeable work emergency. 

To ensure your time off is restorative and restful, take the time before leaving to:

  1. Create a plan. Draft a plan for all projects and initiatives that need coverage while you’re out. Include status updates, what needs to be accomplished or monitored, and who to contact for more details. 
  2. Communicate the plan up, down, and around. Check in with peers, direct reports, and different teams to ensure you’re all on the same page. 
  3. Define ownership. Delegate important tasks as needed to ensure timely coverage. Share any key worries, common missteps, and overall project goals so relevant collaborators know how to navigate what may arise. 
  4. Schedule your re-entry. Mark time off your calendar when you’re back to go through your inbox and catch up on projects. Communicate in your out-of-office reply that emails won’t be returned until after this time. Include who they can contact for assistance should help be needed while you’re out. 

The bottom line: Take the time before a vacation to set up a plan and communicate it well. Colleagues — and projects — will stay on track, and you can have a real chance to disconnect and recharge. 

Go deeper: The 2023 State of Essential Communications Report


Other posts you might be interested in

View All Posts