Pause, if you can

Today is a work holiday in the U.S.

Some people will work anyway.

Some because they love what they do and want to do it.

Some because their services are essential, like emergency responders.

Some because they have no real choice, like those working for a national chain who decided that the extra revenue is worth paying overtime and denying family time (see this chain for a better philosophy).

Some because they think they are expected to work and will be rewarded for it, even though their organization is officially closed for the day. This  speaks to the culture of the organization, or “how things are really done around here.” It matters not what the policy says; employees know what the real rule is.

If we work in an organization that is officially closed today and still receive a call or an email from a subordinate, one that could have waited a day, we must pause and ask “what is it about us that makes our people think they have to work on a holiday?” And let’s not be too quick to blame the subordinate, to deflect responsibility. At the very least, we can do a few things:

  • Tell our subordinate that she should enjoy the day off, relax, recharge, and return to work with new energy
  • Follow up with her in the coming days to assess her workload
  • On the eve of the next holiday, set clear expectation of rest for your team. A short email thanking them for their work and wishing them a nice break can go a long way in creating the right culture.

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