With many agencies having trimmed staff, and the pressure to win new business extreme, it’s hard to even think about taking time off. Yet, we all need to recharge our batteries and in stressful times it’s even more important to do so.
But then there’s the additional challenge of trying to look forward to taking time off, while dreading the process of leaving and returning to work. If you feel this, join the club – you share the stress with most of your coworkers.
Since summer is upon us, I decided to look for a survey that sheds some light on this issue, and found one released in March by the staffing company Ranstad (click here to see it). A few highlights of what stresses us out the most…
- The last day in the office: 46% of Gen X and 44% of Gen Y workers state this is the hard part of taking a break.
- The first day back: 84% of both Gen X and Mature workers find this the stressful day; 74% of Gen Y feel the same. And, women feel it more: 80% versus 74% for men.
- Giving up control in order to go: Interestingly, Gen Y find it the toughest to give up control, with 35% having a hard time, versus only 19% for Mature workers.
The report then looked at how workers prepare their boss or co-workers for their being away. Roughly 50% of workers meet in person to get everyone ready, with 64% of Gen Y preferring this method of communication. While 43% communicate what needs to be done via email, there’s a lot of variation: 54% of Gen Y use email compared to 28% for Mature workers. And while 55% of workers provide a contact number where they can be reached, 64% of Mature do so.
The study confirms the stress we all feel, and recommends a few tactics to help alleviate it. Here are four:
- Get a Head Start – go through your email inbox the day before you return to the office. After deleting the junk mail, scan for emails addressed to you from your boss and clients, assigning priority for follow-up upon your return to the office. This will create a more focused environment once you arrive to work the next morning.
- Ask for a Status Update – if you work on a team or have staff that reports into you, ask someone to send you an email updating you on your projects. By doing this before you get into the office, you’ll have a head-start on your first-day priorities.
- Be an Early Bird – arrive before normal office hours to ensure you get some quiet time to prioritize your to-do list and review and return voicemail messages. Once co-workers begin arriving, chances are you’re more likely to engage in conversation and be met with distractions.
- Take Your Boss To Lunch – taking your boss to lunch on your first day back gives you time to catch up on projects and discuss important matters in a one-on-one atmosphere.
So, while your new business efforts need to take a vacation sometime this summer, know that others share the stress you feel both leaving and returning. Hopefully, one or more of these tactics will help make the transition easier (for what it’s worth, over the years I’ve found #1 and #3 to be very effective).