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Managing a Shorthanded Summer


summer vacation retentionSchool is out, the warm weather is calling and your employees are making plans for golf dates, island getaways and family vacations. Many organizations are already operating with leaner teams, making the impact of additional staff absences even more of a challenge when it comes to managing workloads and keeping projects on track.

As a manager, you’ll find it’s always a good idea to get ahead of the curve by requesting vacation schedules from everyone. Talk with supervisors and project leads to determine what demands will need to be addressed during specific periods of absence. Then you can establish a strategy to maximize your resources.

•    Review time frames. Create a master calendar to track projects and initiatives over the next few months. What needs to be done and how many people will be around to do it? Determine how many hours will be required to meet requirements. Compare this to the number of individuals who will be available at the appropriate times. You may need additional support at peak workload periods. Asking on-hand employees to take on extra hours or additional responsibilities temporarily are both options, but even your hardest workers need time to relax and regroup. Short-term assistance from temporary or project professionals can be a resource during these times. Your core staff will appreciate the support. Consider bringing in the temporary professional a day before the person he or she is replacing departs, so the full-time employee can explain assignments, share information and offer guidance.

•    Change voice mail and e-mail greetings. Before they leave, be sure that members of your staff change their voice mail and email greetings to indicate they are out of the office. Callers are less likely to leave multiple messages for someone they know is not able to respond for a while. The greeting should tell when the person will return and direct callers to an alternate contact who can assist with urgent matters. This will help alleviate any interruption in service.

•    Capitalize on the “vacation afterglow.” Employees typically return from their vacations recharged and refreshed. The first week back is the perfect time to hold a creative brainstorming or planning meeting. By having idea sessions before everyone becomes immersed in projects and daily tasks, you’ll turn post-vacation energy into a power source for your entire organization.

•    Delegate. When you’re away from the office, appoint someone as second-in-command and prepare him or her to assume supervisory responsibilities in your absence.  This will ensure minimal disruption to the workflow while you are gone.

Planning for shorthanded periods will help you redistribute the workload, pool your resources and manage deadlines. With a little advance preparation, the summer months can be your most productive time of the year.


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