Managing jobs in the travel industry – how to switch off
Overwork, long hours, balancing home and work lives, and now the added stress of the coronavirus impact are factors for many of us who have jobs in the travel industry. Switching off becomes difficult. Weekends and holidays can involve checking and replying to emails and planning ahead. Often part of our brain remains attached to work pressure.
But we all know that not having down time is bad for us, so how do we switch off?
At Progressive Travel Recruitment, our management team actively values a healthy work-life balance. In order to walk the walk and not just talk the talk, they have put in place a rule that colleagues don’t send each other emails after 6pm or before 8am or between Friday at 6pm and Monday at 8am. We also have a buddy system for holidays. Each employee has another person in the company who can take over their day-to-day role and cover for them while they’re away. The management team is ready to pick up any slack, too.
The point is for us all to take a proper break during weekends, evenings and on holiday.
Rules for success and less stress in travel jobs
The no email after hours rule has helped us all rethink how we see our time. It means we have the work-life balance that many of us work from home for. It also takes the pressure off everyone – from admins to senior staff – to feel they should be working long hours. I believe it is important to work a sensible number of hours a week. Not doing so can cause serious stress, which in turn leads to silly mistakes, which could ultimately affect your performance and even lead to poor mental health.
In previous roles, I wasn’t expected to work in the evenings, but people just did – and there were no support systems to prevent it. Work hours crept up and up and you’d end up feeling that normal work hours weren’t enough.
The email rule allows us to start the day refreshed. Without it, people end up starting the day with an inbox of ‘to-dos’ that have landed overnight because someone is working all hours. This quickly leads to a firefighting style of work, starting the day on the back foot which can quickly spiral into stress. Now we all start the day on the same page.
Holiday bonus for hard work
In the past, I used to return from holiday not feeling I’d had a holiday. I’d check emails in my hotel room or on the beach. But at Progressive Travel Recruitment there are processes in place that let you truly switch off and have a holiday. By diverting phones and emails, the holiday becomes so much more refreshing. Now checking emails on holiday for me is a big fat NO – and even if I wanted to I can’t. I know that the company supports my holiday as much as they support me at my job. The pressure is off.
The knowledge that my workload is being professionally looked after by a work ‘buddy’ is reassuring. This is a supportive team and there’s a lot of trust between us all. We have a detailed handover process, so for clients and candidates it’s seamless. The buddy system is vice versa so when they’re away you would look after their work too, so it’s in their interest to look after someone’s desk properly. It avoids a deluge of emails when you return, too. After a quick call on your return you’re quickly up to speed and making calls to candidates and clients to follow up on jobs and interviews.
The way I’ve changed to make sure that holidays really are about time to refresh and recharge, is to take more active trips. Instead of just lounging by a beach, I now like to do more. I have an American road-trip lined up, and have just been skiing (the picture here is of me and my family this March). The fresh mountain air, the exercise, and the après are all things that allow me to recharge, relax and spend time with the family. Other than the odd photo on social media this is a true down time for me. I think the rise in wellness holidays is down to this, too. People want to totally switch off and actively look after themselves on holiday, to let both mind and body destress.
Working all hours is counterproductive
Adjusting to rules for any jobs in the travel industry isn’t always easy, of course. Travel recruitment is fast-paced and hectic and you want to succeed in your career and your goals. But as soon as you understand that working all hours is counterproductive, it becomes easier. I make a conscious effort to leave my work phone in my office at the end of the day and step away. These boundaries are particularly important when you work from home. If there are interviews happening, I’ll check first thing that there are no cancellations or problems, but that’s it.
There are times when you do have to work outside office hours, if you’re dealing with clients or candidates in different time zones, for example. But to inflict this on other members of the team is avoided as much as possible. I sometimes make myself available where I can for a candidate or a client that I specifically want to speak to about a job. But I make sure that these are prearranged calls that I’ve organised during the day. Any action points that need to be taken care of immediately I will do and if the team needs to action something then this will happen after the 8am cut off.
Wellbeing and work life balance
Workplaces are now starting to focus properly on the wellbeing of their employees. Our management team putting these rules in place is a huge step in the right direction. We’re expected to work hard, but we’re also encouraged to have proper downtime. I feel we’re leading the way of how businesses with jobs in the travel industry should operate and behave today.