Subscribe
Join 40,000+ sales and marketing pros who receive our 4x a week insights, tips, and best practices.
Thank you! You have been subscribed.

Free Guide: The Blueprint for a More Profitable Agency

Read the Guide Subscribe
Join 40,000+ sales and marketing pros who receive our 4x a week insights, tips, and best practices.
Thank you! You have been subscribed.
Learning Center
Learning Center
Close
The IMPACT Learning Center

Free resources to help you master inbound marketing and They Ask, You Answer

Access the Learning Center

Access the Learning Center

Access the Learning Center
learning_center_grey__What is They Ask, You Answer-v2-black

What is They Ask, You Answer?

What is <span>They Ask, You Answer?</span>
Articles, Podcasts, & Updates

Articles, Podcasts, & Updates

Articles, Podcasts, <span>& Updates</span>
learning_center_grey__Free Courses and Certifications.svg

Free Courses & Certifications

Free Courses & <span>Certifications</span>
On-Demand Keynotes & Sessions

On-Demand Keynotes & Sessions

On-Demand <span>Keynotes & Sessions</span>
Events
Events
Close
IMPACT+ Membership
IMPACT+ Membership
Close
Services
Services
Close
Navigation_8_2021_taya

They Ask, You Answer Coaching & Training

They Ask, You Answer Coaching & Training
They Ask, You Answer Workshop

They Ask, You Answer Workshop

They Ask, You Answer Workshop
Navigation_8_2021_workshop

Inbound Marketing Services

Inbound Marketing Services
Navigation_8_2021_website design - monitor

Website Design & Development

Website Design & Development
Navigation_8_2021_hubspot implementation

HubSpot Training & Implementation

HubSpot Training & Implementation
Navigation_8_2021_virtual selling

Virtual Sales
Training

Virtual Sales <br>Training
Navigation_8_2021_swell - paid ads

Paid Search & Social Services

Paid Search & Social Services
Become a Certified Coach
Become a Certified Coach
Close
... Roles Executives and Leaders
Close
The Blueprint for a More Profitable Agency

Free Guide:

The Blueprint for a More Profitable Agency
Read the Guide
The Blueprint for a More Profitable Agency
Free Guide
View The Blueprint for a More Profitable Agency
The Blueprint for a More Profitable Agency

Free Guide:

Stand out from the competition and deliver the results clients demand

  • Provide greater value to your clients by empowering them to own their inbound marketing execution
  • Deliver higher profit margins
  • Build a more consistent, happy agency life for your employees

 

Why I Won't Respond to Emails While On Vacation

By Justine Timoteo Thomas

Justine Timoteo Thomas also recommends this guide: The Blueprint for a More Profitable Agency.

Why I Won't Respond to Emails While On Vacation Blog Feature

Let’s flash back about six years.

I’m working as an inbound marketing consultant and am getting ready to take my first long vacation in years. 

I am at the office until nearly midnight making sure I have all of my client work done and my notes prepped and outlined for the people covering for me while I’m out. 

I finally sign off, nearly in tears because I can practically taste the salty Hawaiian air. 

And then — on my way to a luau, walking to the beach, and hiking Diamond Head — I check my work email. 

I respond to Skype messages (pre-Slack days...). I never truly unplug.

I come back, not refreshed or rejuvenated as I had hoped, and continue working for another year until I eventually burn out and quit.

I’ve repeated this pattern over the years and it wasn’t until recently I finally wondered why I couldn’t truly unplug during my time off. 

And then it hit me: because my coworkers didn’t unplug either. 

Free Guide: The Blueprint for a More Profitable Agency

Stats about work culture

As an employee, these statistics resonate with me. As a manager, they scare me. 

I, too, have felt like the people in these studies, but as someone who leads a 10-person team, I know I cannot afford to have them burn out.

When you hear the term “burnout,” you may only associate it with feeling stressed, exhausted, or disengaged, but it goes much more beyond that.

Stanford’s Graduate School of Business reported that burnout costs the U.S. $190 billion in health care expenses. What’s even worse, the report cites 120,000 deaths are attributed to workplace stress.

In addition, 95% of HR leaders blame burnout for the inability to retain staff.

So, how do we remedy this? 

Finding value in your work, being social with coworkers, and volunteering are all ways to help combat burnout, but the one that I know I can help influence with my team is taking time off.

Now, it’s one thing to simply say, “Unplug! Don’t check your email while out of the office!” and it’s another thing to actually put that into practice.

How to change your team’s time off culture

60% of employees work while they are on vacation. 60! 

If the majority of people are still working on their time off, how can they avoid burning out and potentially quitting because of it? 

As someone who has experienced burnout before, I know first-hand just how traumatizing it can be for an individual. But what I hadn’t considered before is how burnout affects a company as a whole.

Now, you may be wondering what was the trigger that caused me to self-reflect and focus on this issue. 

Well, the moment came after I was promoted to manage a team here at IMPACT. 

I asked myself, “What is one thing I could have a direct impact on that would lead to high-quality work, satisfied clients, and even higher profitability?”   

Then it hit me: my team’s happiness. 

I decided that by focusing on creating a healthy work culture for my team — one with more work-life balance — they would be happier and, ultimately, more productive

Here’s my advice to you: 

Evaluate the current state

In order to make improvements to your work or time-off, you first need to know how bad (or good) things are. 

Here at IMPACT, we do a weekly happiness score where every team member rates how they are feeling that week on a scale of 1-10. 

My goal is to have an average score of 9 or above. 

More often than not, I found people giving lower scores leading up to their vacation or immediately following it. 

Vacation is meant to be fun and something you look forward to! 

I knew I had to figure out why people were feeling unhappy surrounding their time off.

Find common threads

All managers here at IMPACT use the happiness-scoring method to get honest feedback on what people are struggling with and what is going really well. Are there any trends?

Don’t accept a surface-level answer, either, when talking with your team. If one person is experiencing frustrations or stress, chances are another team member has gone through something similar.

Really try to dive deeper into why someone is feeling unhappy or stressed so you can uncover the true underlying issues you need to solve for.

I discovered that leading up to someone’s time off, they were beyond stressed that stuff would be missed or something would go wrong while they were out. 

On the flip side, those who just returned from vacation were overwhelmed trying to dive back into work and trying to catch up on what had happened while they were out.

Having identified the two critical causes of stress surrounding time off, I knew we could tackle solving for them.

Host one-on-ones to address these issues or concerns

Meet with your team members individually. 

I previously worked for a nine-person company, but I did not have regular one-on-one meetings with my boss, the CEO. 

We never really knew what our co-workers were dealing with or what was going well or poorly. I felt disconnected, uncoached and, honestly, unmotivated. 

Meeting one-on-one with your team members will give you the opportunity to have an open, private dialogue about what is going on in their days and weeks and address the common pain points or issues you two have identified.  

This will help establish trust between you and your colleague — a must-have in any successful relationship, particularly when you rely on each other’s dependability.

Create a plan for time off

To help solve for the stress leading up and coming back from vacation, we established a process for taking time off. 

With it, we aimed to answer key questions: how do people submit their requests and how far in advance do they need to be? Where are requests recorded? When should they inform clients or coworkers of their planned time off? How should they prep for being out? How are they informed of what was accomplished or worked on when they return?

For that last question, my team created a “Vacation Planning Playbook” that is now used as a framework for the entire company. In it, includes an “Out of Office Outline” that notes:

  1. Dates for the planned time off
  2. Essential login information 
  3. Who the backup person will be to manage and complete tasks or client communication
  4. A breakdown of work that needs to be completed with instructions on what to do
  5. Agendas that are pre-made for any meetings the backup person needs to host

This document is shared with our entire team and we actively take notes within it while the person is out. This way, they have a reference for what was done when they get back.

This document also helps with my next word of advice. 

Set clear expectations

Make it very clear to your teammates on what is expected of them when it comes to time off. 

With my team:

  1. It’s mandatory: I’m not saying you need to force your team to take an extended, long vacation every single year, but at least one day off each quarter is mandatory so they can recharge and simply take a break from the daily grind.
  2. Be dependable: They need to be someone I (and the other teammates) can rely on when I’m not around. I expect them to be able to get work done, figure things out, and make decisions. If they relied on me for every single thing, I would be on calls answering questions every minute of every day. By being surrounded by dependable co-workers, teammates will feel confident in leaving work behind because the last expectation I set is....
  3. Don’t check-in while you’re off: This has a dual purpose. First, it helps ensure the person taking time off enjoys their time and doesn’t feel pressure to remain plugged in. Second, it denotes a sense of confidence in the team member that is acting as the backup and while the person is out 

Lead by example

This is my biggest tip: do as you expect your employees to do. 

Leading by example is going to be your biggest opportunity of improving your work culture

Are you constantly complaining or do you bring a positive attitude to team meetings? Are you a “yes person” and take on too much during the day or do you set clear boundaries for what you can get to in a given time period?

Most importantly, do you remain plugged in during “time off,” answering emails and Slack messages, or do you take the time to relax?

Your team is going to follow your actions, so if you are setting the expectation to not check-in while out, then you need to do the same.

Think back to me on that Hawaiian beach six years ago. I felt pressured to be available to answer questions or provide help to my colleagues and clients because each of my co-workers (and boss) were doing the same. It made me feel like “what gave me the right to unplug if they didn’t?” 

Leading by example can have a greater impact than you realize.

Enjoy your results (and vacation!)

Changing your work culture is going to be something that takes time, but even the smallest actions can propel you forward. Make a plan for when you want to implement the above steps and assign deadlines to work towards. And don’t be afraid to delegate! This is something that will benefit your entire team, so they should look at contributing as an opportunity to improve their work-life balance.

After following the above steps, I fully started to embrace my vacation time — not responding to emails, Slacks, Basecamp messages, and other communication when I planned to take time off. 

And guess what? 

So did my team.

The Blueprint for a More Profitable Agency
The Blueprint for a More Profitable Agency

Free Guide:

The Blueprint for a More Profitable Agency

Stand out from the competition and deliver the results clients demand

  • Provide greater value to your clients by empowering them to own their inbound marketing execution
  • Deliver higher profit margins
  • Build a more consistent, happy agency life for your employees

 

Topics:

Executives and Leaders
Coaches, Consultants & Strategists
Published on September 12, 2019

Recent Articles

How To Align Your Sales And Marketing Teams In 2022
January 20, 2022 • 8 min read
How To Use They Ask, You Answer to Improve Your Hiring Process
December 21, 2021 • 7 min read
What Is a Revenue Team? (Definition + Video)
December 16, 2021 • 9 min read
Yes, They Ask, You Answer Works for B2B Companies (+Examples)
December 14, 2021 • 6 min read
Outsourcing Is Broken: Why We Need To Rethink the Relationship Between Client and Agency
December 10, 2021 • 6 min read
Brutally Honest Pros and Cons of They Ask, You Answer for Digital Marketing
December 7, 2021 • 10 min read
‘The Big 5’ Best Business Blog Topics That Drive Traffic, Leads, and Sales (+ Video)
November 26, 2021 • 9 min read
9 Thought Leaders We’re Incredibly Thankful For
November 25, 2021 • 9 min read
Who Should Be On Your Content Marketing Team? 5 Critical Positions
November 23, 2021 • 9 min read
Why Trust Is the True Currency for Any Business
November 16, 2021 • 5 min read
How To Get and Keep Great Clients for Your Marketing Agency (Acquisition & Retention Strategies)
November 3, 2021 • 7 min read
Benefits of Online, Peer-to-Peer Learning for Digital Marketers
October 30, 2021 • 8 min read
Top 13 Inbound Marketing & HubSpot Solutions Partner Program Agencies for 2022
October 29, 2021 • 8 min read
Need a HubSpot Admin? Here’s How to Find and Hire the Right Candidate
October 22, 2021 • 5 min read
How To Become a Better Coach (for Business Consultants, Sales Coaches, and Marketing Strategists)
October 20, 2021 • 8 min read
Why Your Business Always Needs to Invest in Marketing — in Bad Times and Good (+ Video)
October 7, 2021 • 8 min read
The Digital Marketing Plan to Franchise Your Business: They Ask, You Answer
September 7, 2021 • 6 min read
Success with They Ask You Answer: How Baron Payroll rebuilt their team for success
September 1, 2021 • 6 min read
Content Manager Job Description for Marketing Teams (All Industries)
August 24, 2021 • 9 min read
How much does marketing news really matter? (Content Lab, Ep. 56)
August 13, 2021 • 1 min read
Why you need to hire a coach to spur business growth
August 5, 2021 • 5 min read
Gartner: Slashed 2021 marketing budgets increases in-house ownership
July 30, 2021 • 6 min read
ICYMI: Digital Marketing News Update for July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021 • 6 min read
I’m a word-of-mouth business: How can inbound marketing help me grow?
July 20, 2021 • 5 min read
ICYMI: Digital Marketing News Update for July 19, 2021
July 19, 2021 • 6 min read