We’ve Got You Covered: Dealing with Warehouse Vacations

Aaaahhh, that summer vacation is looming! How will you be spending yours? Or will you be spending your summer dealing with other peoples’ vacations? If you’re like most businesses, the work doesn’t stop just because it’s summer. However, every employee needs a vacation. It’s important for the health and morale of the individual employee as well as the organization as a whole.

Americans are traditionally poor at taking paid vacation time. In fact, Americans leave 705 million vacation days unused every year, according to a survey done by annual tracking agency, “State of the American Vacation” and recently cited on “Good Morning America.” That means less trouble for employers, who have to get coverage for the people who are on vacation, right? Short-term, possibly. Long-term, not so much.

If you or your employees or co-workers are not taking a vacation, it’s not saving the boss any headaches. If the boss is you, do encourage people to take their vacation time. Oh, sure, if that worker doesn’t take a vacation, you won’t have to get coverage for the job, or you won’t have to explain to someone else the most cost-effective way to ship a forklift to a customer. But that worker won’t be as productive as he or she can be if a vacation was on the horizon. That person ay even face burn-out if you don’t provide a break. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an executive or a welder, a CEO or an assistant – everyone needs that break. Vacations make people happy. Happy employees are productive employees, who cheerfully do their work as a team, for the good of the company.


There are many ways to prepare for the vacation season, but let’s narrow it down to three basic solutions to keeping business running as smoothly as possible. The first way is to leave it up to the supervisor and the employee to work out coverage of the vacationer’s duties during the time off. The vacationer should inform the supervisor of all pending work assignments, especially the potential “hot topics.” For example, if Client Jones just received a shipment of gently used gondola shelving and has not called to give feedback, he is probably satisfied with his order. But, knowing Client Jones and his short temper, you think there might be an issue with a few scratches and dings on the shelving. The vacationer should either prepare the supervisor for this or call Client Jones before leaving on vacation. The key message here: don’t leave someone else holding the bag.

The second way to handle vacation season is to get temporary coverage. If you have positions like order takers, executive assistants or order pickers, find temporary agencies that specialize in these areas. Develop a relationship with the agency and/or the actual temporary worker, so that he or she can learn your business. That way, you don’t have to explain what a cantilever rack system is or your order-picking procedure more than once. You can request that particular person every time you need help. The learning curve will be shorter and the time more productive.

The third way for vacation coverage is to simply shut down the entire organization for a week to two weeks, resulting in forced, mandatory vacation for everyone. Don’t panic at the thought of it. The benefits of that strategy will come back to you tenfold during your busy season when all employees have taken a vacation and they feel valued vs. burnt out. The business you miss during that time will likely come back to you.

Several industries follow the shut-down vacation plan, including warehouse fixturing. The dates are scheduled and communicated at least a year in advance, or it is known that the shut-down is the same two weeks every year. At Everything Warehouse, we look forward to shutting down every year in July. We’ve learned that no matter how vacations are covered, these rules of common courtesy apply:

  • Communicate with all current clients and vendors that you will be on vacation during a said time period. Make sure anyone covering your job knows when you will return.

  • Tie-up as many loose ends as possible prior to going on vacation. Those that can’t be completed, should be explained to any covering assistance, with clear instructions on next steps.

  • Vacationers should have an outgoing voicemail message and e-mail response indicating they are on vacation and when they will return. The return date is imperative, because it may determine “emergency” status.

  • If appropriate, leave an emergency number just in case there is a true emergency. Most people calling a company will wait until you return if their request is not an urgent matter.

  • When you come back from vacation and are refreshed, your contacts will hear it in your voice and see it in your step. They will look forward to or reminisce about their own vacations.
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