What to Say in Your Out-of-Office Email and Voice Messages When You Take Time Off

What to Say in Your Out-of-Office Email and Voice Messages When You Take Time Off

You’re finally taking some time off of work. Sure, your holidays this year won’t be spent sunning in the tropics or scaling an ice-capped mountain as you might have hoped, but you’ve got big plans for taking some down time to rest, relax, and binge new shows on your favorite streaming service.

To successfully decompress, you know there are some odds and ends you need to tie up at work — specifically finding a way to communicate with your leads, clients, and coworkers that you’re not working, but you’re making sure their needs are taken care of.

Seems like a big task, right? Well…wrong. You don’t need to stop by everyone in the office’s desks (if you’re even working in an office these days!) or send out an email to each and every client or lead. The easiest way to do this is by simply changing your voicemail greeting and adding an out-of-office email responder to your email client.

Here, we’ll go over what’s required in an out-of-office email responder or email greeting, as well as a few ways you can jazz up your out-of-office message (and potentially making your colleagues wish they thought this up first!)

What’s required in an out-of-office email or voicemail greeting

Going on a vacation, feeling under the weather, celebrating the holidays, or just playing hooky from work? If so, you need to let your colleagues, clients, and leads know that you’re not available. There’s nothing worse than waiting for an urgent request, or even a quick and simple response, only to find out the person you’re trying to reach is out of work and completely unable to respond to you.

When you update your voicemail or turn on your email client’s out-of-office greeting, there are three basic things you must share in your message: When you’re leaving, when you plan on responding to your messages upon returning, and who they can contact if they need to talk to someone right away.

The dates in your out-of-office messages

First, and most importantly, let the people trying to get in touch with you know when you’ll be gone and when you’ll be returning. There’s one more date to add — when they can expect for you to return their message.

This information will help the person reaching out to you gauge whether their message can wait for your response or if they need to contact someone else instead.

Who to contact in your absence

Once the person reaching out to you realizes you’re gone, they may panic if they have a legitimate need for immediate support. The best way to avoid this is to let your callers (and emailers) know how to find the appropriate help. As to who you choose, you might consider listing a coworker, your supervisor, or an on-call number if available. Just make sure to clear this with whomever you pick as a support person so they’re aware they’re backing up your calls and emails for emergent situations.

A few fun additions to your out-of-office message

While you certainly don’t want to go on and on in your message, there is an opportunity to engage or educate while you’re away. Here are a few options to potentially include.

Pro tip: The first works well for both voicemail greetings and email responders, while the next two are most appropriate for emails.

Ways to stay in touch

End your out-of-office response with a way your callers and emailers can stay connected on social media, if you use it for work. This is especially helpful if you keep active social media accounts and expect calls from leads who may need some nurturing.

Content they can read in your out-of-office message

Does your company publish blogs or offer downloadable ebooks, reports, or case studies? If so, add a P.S. to the end of your vacation message linking your readers to some content they can learn from or engage with.

Rave reviews

It might feel strange to include happy client testimonials in your out-of-office responder, but doing so is easier than you think. A quick note that suggests they read the testimonials if they’re interested in a product or service you offer is an easy inclusion or postscript to your email. Just limit the amount you share to one or two.

Don’t stress about what to say in your out-of-office messages. Keep it simple, concise, and the people reaching out to you will know exactly what to do or when they’ll hear from you. And, most importantly, enjoy your time off!

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Erin Ollila

Erin Ollila is a content strategist and writer who believes in the power of words and how a message can inform — and even transform — its intended audience. Reach out to her on Instagram at @ErinOllila, or visit her website erinollila.com.