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When you’re off sick for the day or even taking a couple of weeks away from the office to catch some sun, it’s more than likely that there will be someone on hand to cover your back and keep an eye on your emails until you return. However when you’ve got a more prolonged period of absence in the pipeline, it’s crucial that you put some precautionary measures and a plan of action in place to ensure everything stays ticking over nicely while you’re gone.

Whether it’s visiting family on the other side of the world, months’ worth of maternity leave or recovery from a stint in hospital, it’s important that absolutely nothing is left compromised back at the office. You need to make sure that the entire process is as stress-free as possible for yourself, as streamline as can be for your clients and as seamless as you can make it for customers and clients who are often easily perturbed by diversions from routine.

You need to remember that your absence impacts more than just number one so we’ve put together some expert guidance on preparing for a period of leave in order to make the whole operation as hassle-free and harmonious as possible for all involved.

Consider recruiting a temporary replacement

In big companies with a large number of staff, it’s much easier to simply split up the absentee’s workload and delegate to other members of the department. However when it comes to micro businesses and start-up ventures with much smaller teams, there is often just one or two people assigned to a role so this method of delegation doesn’t really suffice. In this case, hiring a replacement member of staff on a temporary basis can be the perfect way to ensure your team isn’t left short-staffed.

Start the process early enough to be sure that the replacement employee is ready to start as soon as you commence your leave of absence. It is also often advisable to allow an overlap period when both you and your temporary stand-in are both present so they get the chance to ask any questions and learn the ropes before being left to fend for themselves.

This will be something that you will need to discuss with your boss first, however, as you will need to ensure that there is the financial means to fund this decision. If this is something they are keen to proceed with, you will need to also make sure that any applicants being considered for the position are aware that it is just a temporary position. This will help avoid any misunderstandings or disappointment further down the line.

Make sure all customers and clients are kept in the loop

Making life easy for your colleagues is essential in ensuring as little disruption as possible but it’s equally as important to consider your clients and customers when preparing to take a chunk of time off. Keeping them informed and in the loop makes for excellent customer service and will help make sure you retain their loyalty in the long run. Failing to be transparent about your absence and leaving clients in the dark will only make for disgruntled customers who have the ability to destroy the reputation of your company at the very touch of a button.

For example at an accountancy firm, clients may need to be reassigned to another accountant in your absence but they first need to be aware of why, when and how long this will be for. Give any clients involved a courtesy call and a follow up email beforehand to explain when you are leaving, when you’ll be back and who will be dealing with them in the meantime. Going ahead without consulting them first could lead to unnecessary dispute and damaging dissatisfaction that can be so easily avoided.

Put together a concise handover document

Whether you decide to recruit a temporary replacement or leave it to your trusty employees to handle, creating a thorough and concise handover document beforehand is something you absolutely must prioritise. Explaining face-to-face is all well and good but it’s more than likely that this information is going to go in one ear and out the other and will be forgotten within a matter of hours. Getting this all down on paper instead is a good way to give you peace of mind, instil security in your colleagues and avoid early morning panic phone calls requesting your help.

In this handy document you will need to include: any important log in details and passwords, an outline of your overall responsibilities, a more detailed description of your day-to-day tasks, any deadlines that are coming up, any client details or specifications that you think might be important and finally, direct contact details for yourself in case of any emergencies.

Ensure your emails are being diverted

Making sure that your emails are being diverted to another member of staff might seem like a minor touch and it can be easily overlooked but this is essential for keeping the management of your workload in check while you’re gone. Simply activate the setting on your mail server than enables you to automatically send any emails that land in your inbox onto a colleague who can best deal with it on your behalf. You will also need to activate an automated out of office reply explaining that you’re away from work and when you will be back so as not to appear rude or ignorant.

About The Author

Karl Bilby

We work very closely with our expert accountants to bring you the latest factually correct tax and accounting news. We also enjoy writing about small business news that we hope you find useful!

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