“Musical Chairs”

August 3, 2023

Who in the team wins a relaxing holiday, and who stays home?

Summer has arrived, and everyone's vacation beckons. It's almost time for many to leave the exhaustion of the past year behind and enjoy well-deserved rest and relaxation. But before we can fully immerse ourselves in the holiday vibes, there's one obstacle that comes our way: the infamous musical chairs.... A peculiar communication ritual that occurs at least twice a year, namely before the summer vacation and before Christmas.

A similar phenomenon seems to repeat itself, and this year is no exception: the race to "clear the plate" before the first day of vacation. This ritual appears to be present in every company and department. We want to complete all tasks, tie up loose ends, and ensure a smooth handover to our colleagues so that everything continues without problems while we are on vacation.

In other words, we grit our teeth a little longer to leave everything in a way that we can pick it up again when we return. In fact, we would prefer our colleagues to take over the reins during our vacation so that, upon our return, a lot of progress has been made, and no incidents have occurred.

But let's be honest, this whole system seems like a game of musical chairs, with the to-do lists just moving from one basket to another. We're running around like crazy in circles around the chairs, hoping that nothing lands on our seat once the music stops. It's an endless race that only exhausts us more and adds to the stress. While most of us have been craving a break to rest and recharge for a while now, we push ourselves beyond our limits just before the finish line.

Let's take a look at a few interesting facts. On average, the Dutch enjoy 14.1 days of summer vacation. But did you know that the average Dutch person actually needs 18 days to truly unwind? In comparison, people from the United Kingdom only need 8.5 days, while people from Finland require a whopping 34 days. It's amusing how the need for relaxation and rest can vary so much from one country to another!

The Burning Question. Why do we drive each other crazy over just 14 days of absence from work? The majority of your colleagues are also on vacation during the same period. If we really want to make the race to vacation worthwhile, let's book at least 3 weeks of holiday. That way, we give ourselves the chance to truly experience what it's like to relax in those full 21 days, even if it's apparently only for 3 out of the 21 days.

And what about that extensive handover? Is it really necessary at all? Because in case of emergency, the majority of us (61.7%) are on vacation within the Netherlands, so at a maximum of 3 hours driving distance from work. I seriously doubt it's needed for executives and office workers.

And in the past, for a proper handover between operational employees during holiday periods, like in hospitality, supermarkets, and stores, extensive lists of instructions, procedures, and processes were put on paper. However, that time is now outdated. Most companies have a mobile app with modern To-Do Lists, the latest news, and instructional videos. And if you can't figure something out, just send a WhatsApp message.

No roaming charges in Europe, 5G, everywhere there's WIFI, and even our kids have iPhones...

So, let's all make a good resolution. Next time, let's not participate in the race to "finish the entire workload." Because let's be honest, that workload never truly finishes. And when we're on vacation, we should be on vacation. Take some time to relax, not just for yourself but also for your colleagues. Sounds like a great idea, right?

So, push those chairs aside and dance your way into your vacation. It's time to unwind, enjoy, and grant yourself the peace you deserve.

Anne Jaakke
HR ChangeMaker
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