More Bosses Disconnecting From Work on Vacation

Life is a Beach

More executives than ever are completely disconnecting from the office when they go on vacation, new research shows.

In the study by Robert Half Management Resources, 51 percent of chief financial officers said they don't check in with the office at all while on vacation — nearly double the percentage from a similar poll in 2010, and up 30 percentage points from a 2005 study.

Paul McDonald, a senior executive director with Robert Half, said the continued trend of unplugging while on vacation is a positive step.

"It may indicate that executives have a stronger level of confidence in their teams and processes, and as a result, feel more comfortable skipping regular check-ins," he said. "With the prevalence of wireless networks and mobile devices, they know they can be reached easily if needed."

At the same time, the research shows not every executive feels comfortable disconnecting entirely, with 27 percent of those surveyed planning to touch base several times a week. That's up from 12 percent in 2010 and 14 percent in 2005.

"Many leaders continue to oversee lean teams and need to monitor critical initiatives over the summer months, making frequent contact necessary," McDonald said.

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Completely disconnecting from the office can prove fruitful for everyone, including those left behind.

"By stepping away completely, people are more likely to gain the restorative benefits of vacation and return to the office recharged and more productive," McDonald noted. "Managers also set a positive example when they disconnect, since employees may be inclined to follow suit."

Additionally, unplugging can offer insight into employees with standout potential, McDonald said.

"Placing trust in a solid team to carry on without your guidance can help you identify potential candidates for succession planning and promotion," he said.

As summer heats up and more executives take vacation, Robert Half offers several tips for preparing to leave the office:

  • Stick With The Out-Of-Office Message: If you're inaccessible, stay that way. You send mixed signals if you say you're not checking in and then start returning calls.
  • Clarify What a Crisis Is: Be clear with staff about what situations require escalation and to whom. If you expect to be notified of emergencies, provide a way for people to reach you quickly.
  • Limit Surprises: Set people up for success in your absence by giving them a heads-up on what issues may arise and how they can address them.
  • Acknowledge Great Work: On your return, thank those who helped the office run smoothly in your absence. Make note of their efforts in their next performance review.

The study was based on surveys of 1,400 CFOs from a random sample of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.

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