Out of office

How Your OOO Message Can Support Retention, Recruiting, and Recharging

Your leadership impact doesn’t have to take a vacation when you do. Your out-of-office (OOO) reply will be going to every person who contacts you while you’re gone: employees, colleagues, and your external network. Instead of just letting them know you’re away, take the opportunity to burnish your company’s profile and lead by example.

In a short email, you can turn the standard auto-reply into a compelling brand message that supports retention, recruiting, and recharging. Here’s an example of how simple yet effective this can be.

This email sends a powerful leadership message to multiple audiences. The next time you set up your OOO message, include the following five elements:

  • Tout your company’s benefits and culture
  • Link to your careers or about page 
  • Set expectations about your availability
  • Reflect the benefits of taking time off
  • Encourage others to take a break


Your audience: team members and colleagues. Your message enhances employee engagement and retention by:

  • Reminding people of the value of their total compensation
  • Enhancing your team’s trust that you support their wellbeing
  • Modeling work-life balance behavior for others


Your audience: external contacts in your network. Your message supports your networking and recruiting goals by: 

  • Burnishing your company’s appeal as a great place to work
  • Encouraging contacts to refer top talent for your job openings
  • Creating a more personal connection for deeper relationships


Your audience: yourself! Knowing that your message is modeling work-life balance and setting clear boundaries helps you truly recharge by:

  • Reinforcing the benefits of taking a real break from work
  • Giving yourself the assurance that it’s okay to fully step away 
  • Reminding yourself that others are looking to your example as a leader

There’s one additional secret to this approach: unless there’s truly an emergency, your OOO message should be the only email you send while you’re out. Not only does working while you’re on vacation undermine the benefits taking time off, it also sends a message to colleagues and potential talent that any promises of work-life balance at your company can’t be trusted. 

Retention and recruiting (and your own capacity to lead authentically) thrive when you take a genuine break — so let people know about it!

Powerful question: Did you send work emails while out of the office during your last vacation? What message do you think that sent to your team members?

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