Getting the Most From July 4th and Other Days Off

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“Who said we financial planners are taking time off just because it's the 4th of July?” asks one wealth management professional. “Just kidding!” he adds quickly.

Or is he? It's no secret that people who work in the financial services sector have been known to take their work to the beach. And while there may be some evidence that financial pros are learning how to disconnect from thoughts of work and truly relax during their time at the shore or the patio with family and friends, others suggest it's really tough to "unplug" from office worries and electronic devices that allow you to check in from anywhere and any time.

Financial professionals are “people with a high needs for control, and on vacation you tend to lose that sense of control,” said Stephen Laser, Ph.D., a Chicago-based psychologist who is hired by financial services companies to interview and test job candidates before they’re hired.

Some individuals prefer to maintain that sense of control by simply keeping their cell phone and/or laptop with them during vacation breaks, he tells eFinancialCareers, noting that this way if they need to address an important issue they can go ahead and do it in 15 or 20 minutes tops.

While that sounds reasonable enough, many of us already know it doesn’t tend to work that way in practice: With all the technological capabilities we have these days, it’s easy to become obsessed with checking in, and one needs a true plan and strategy regarding how to disengage from work when taking time away from the grind.

What to do?

Robert Half Management Resources offers several tips for preparing to leave the office for a day or two or much longer:

  • Set and stick with your out-of-office messages. Don't return messages on vacation unless it's a crisis or an emergency. If you’re inaccessible, stay that way.

  • Clarify what constitutes a crisis. Your definition of a crisis may be different from those on your team. Be clear with staff about what situations require escalation and to whom. If you expect to be notified of emergencies, provide a way for people to reach you quickly.

  • Limit surprises. Don’t expect staff to “wing it” while you’re away.Set people up for success in your absence by giving them a heads up on what issues may arise and how they can address them.

Paul McDonald, a senior executive director with Robert Half, tells eFinancialCareers that for financial pros, the most important things they can do to keep from stressing while taking time off include the tip regarding meeting with one’s team and outlining what a crisis means to you and, on extended trips, assigning one of your peers to step in if you are unreachable.

And always acknowledge the great work your team has done while you’ve been out. “Staff who take initiative, show professionalism and make good decisions in your absence may be ready to take on bigger roles in the organization,” McDonald says.

 

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