Need a work holiday? – Banish the guilt!

Summer is here and that might mean you’re preparing for an eagerly anticipated holiday. The lead up to the holidays is never smooth sailing though, is it? Beneath the excitement, lurks a sense of guilt which silently adds an unnecessary pressure your holiday planning.

The mere thought of leaving the office behind for a week or more, can bring an overwhelming sense of guilt which can ruin any hope a relaxing break.

You might wonder if there’s any point in even taking a holiday.

How about banishing the guilt for good?  Before you start your packing, follow these top tips:

1. An opportunity to empower!

“Everything will go wrong because I’m not there!!”

It’s commendable that you care about your job – but how true is it that everything will go wrong the moment you leave the building?

Things might not run as smoothly as you’d like, but give your team and delegates a bit of credit!  Your holiday period could be exactly the right time for them to show you exactly what they can do. After all, if you’re always there, how can they ever prove themselves?

Don’t just pack and leave though. Take responsibility and make sure you do the necessary prep work upfront. A thorough handover is key! You’ll then feel relaxed in the knowledge that your delegates have all the information they need to do a great job.

2. Check your assumptions

“It will look really bad if I take time off”

What assumptions might you be making here?

Your view of workplace culture has probably skewed what you believe you need to do to prove your commitment to your job. You already know you’re legally entitled to your holiday allocation and yet you still feel the guilt.

Here’s are the facts. Most employers WANT you to take your holiday allocation. Why? Because they know that when employees take time off work, their engagement, happiness and productivity increase! There’s nothing for them to lose and everything to gain!

Take a guilt free holiday and come back with fresh ideas and renewed enthusiasm. Your manager will then be getting the absolute best from you.

And if you’re a leader or manager, you have a responsibility to set the right tone. Lead by example and show others that taking uninterrupted holiday time is a necessity. Not something to feel guilty about.

3. Accept the inevitable

“There’ll be a mountain of work to get through when I get back”. 

There’s always something you can do ahead of your holiday to minimise the backlog. In the end though even when your team are covering some of your work, emails will continue to fill your inbox, voicemails will build up and activities which need your personal attention will be waiting when you return. It’s just the nature of our workplaces.

In reality though, how bad will the ‘mountain of work’ really be?

Think back to previous holidays. How well did you deal with the backlog?  Was it anywhere near as horrendous as you thought? Was it worth the worry and guilt beforehand?

Acknowledge the inevitable and accept that you can never have complete control when you’re out of the office. Instead, focus on what you can influence.

Before you leave for holiday, get proactive and create goals designed to efficiently tackle the ‘work mountain’ when you return. Here’s how….

4. Plan exciting future goals

“I just can’t get back into work mode”.

Your first day back will be an uphill struggle if you fail to set your ‘return to work’ goals before you’ve leave for your holiday.

We all get that initial feeling of dread the night before our return to work after a relaxing holiday. Reduce the anxiety by creating some clear and exciting goals which will quickly get you back into the swing of things. It helps to know exactly what motivates you at work. Ask yourself these questions:

What tasks do I enjoy most? 

When do I use my strengths?

Which activities energise me?

By creating goals that draw on your strongest abilities and excite you, you’re more likely to get back in the flow and avoid that post-holiday slump.  Read more about goals in my blog HERE.

And while you’re away, you never know when inspiration might strike. You may have struggled over a tricky problem at work for months but don’t be surprised if the solution hits you while you’re away. Creativity comes when we least expect it so be prepared and don’t lose the moment!


With upfront planning and mindful preparation, you’ll remove the worry and feel more like you’ve earned your time off. Come back relaxed and refreshed and who knows….. you might appreciate your job even more!

Tammy Windsor

Tammy is a professional coach, trained at post-graduate level and also holds Ph.D in Pharmacology. She spent 14 years in the pharmaceutical industry leading global clinical teams as well as supporting strategic and culture change across these organisations.

Tammy founded InnovaCoaching after seeing the significant and positive impact of change on individuals and organisations which coaching and mentoring provides,.

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