MARKETING • CREATIVE • DIGITAL
5 Steps to Take When an Essential Employee Goes on Leave
You’ve just learned that one of your top employees is going to be out on leave for the next 2-3 months. You’re concerned because you’re not sure how your team’s projects will be completed on time. What will you do?
It can be hard on everyone when team members are expected to pick up an additional workload and go on with business as usual. But, leaves of absence don’t have to disrupt the work balance of your squad. Instead, you can tackle potential roadblocks of an essential employee being gone using these five tips:
1) Have your employee prepare a proposal before they go out on leave.
If the leave of absence is planned, ask your employee to take some time to prepare a proposal before they go. This document should lay out an arrangement for the manager and/or team that will explain how the work will get done when the employee is away from the office. This proposal should clarify things like:
- How the employee’s duties should be divided/who is responsible for each task
- Circumstances in which it’s okay to contact the employee while they’re on leave
- Best method for contacting the employee (i.e. phone or email)
2) Be transparent with your team.
Open communication can help ensure that there is no confusion or resentment between managers and employees who are left to take on the extra work. Team members should be given direction on the chain of command so it’s understood where they can go to find answers to any questions that arise. Also, inform employees of any agreed upon timelines and clarify what will take place when the employee on leave returns to the office.
3) Consider employee schedules.
Since your team will be taking on additional responsibilities, it’s essential that managers and team members know if and when someone else will be away from the office. Ask employees to request time off as soon as they know when they’ll be gone. Also, consider flexible schedules to keep up team morale and to assure employees that you understand the pressures of the increased work and still respect their personal lives.
4) Showcase hardworking employees and use the opportunity of new/additional responsibilities to further develop team members.
This is a great time to let employees know how valuable they are to your organization. Don’t fail to recognize those who take on additional projects to help fill the gap while another employee is away on leave.
You can also use this time to:
- Stretch employees for future promotions
- Let team members try out new skills
- Watch for hidden talents that may be within your team
5) If necessary, hire help.
If your squad is already strapped for time and a top employee will be out for awhile, it may be a good idea to look into hiring a short-term contractor or independent freelancer. There are highly skilled people who are willing and able to take on the additional work and who need very little (if any) training or supervision.