The True Value of Vacation Time


The snow is gone and the grass is slowly starting to turn green.  Employee thoughts are turning to summer vacation planning.  How do you manage vacation time in your business?  Do you encourage employees to take their vacation time or is “Vacation Shaming” part of your Workplace culture?  

Vacation time should be encouraged, celebrated and looked forward to.  Taking time away from work is vital to keeping your team happy, motivated, productive, and ensuring they are physically and emotionally well!  As a Business owner or leader ensure that you are leading by example and planning and taking your time away from work.  If you have ever taken a vacation in the past and been on a plane (insert laughter here) you have heard the flight attendant tell you in case of an emergency put the oxygen mask on yourself first.  Well taking time away from your business for a vacation is the proverbial oxygen mask.   

No doubt, if you own a small business vacation coverage can be difficult.   Difficult but not impossible. Nobody should have to take their laptop on vacation to check emails or keep project timelines on schedule – seriously people what did we do before smart phones and laptops?  No employee should be that indispensable.  If you have an employee that is so indispensable that they can’t be away for a week or two – you seriously need to institute some cross training immediately.   Yes, you should miss the person and feel their loss from the office but your business must be able to continue in their absence.  

Planning is so important to the vacation process. Firstly, ensure that you strategically approve vacation requests so that there is adequate coverage of employees.   Don’t be afraid to say “no” to a vacation request.  Lets face it – the whole office can’t be on vacation at the same time… or can they?  If you have a ‘shut down’ in your business-you are allowed to dictate that time to your employees as vacation time.  It is important that you manage the expectations of your clients and customers.  If you have peak business periods (for example Christmas) don’t be afraid to black out a period of time where vacations will not be approved. 

Many employers find the summer months peak time for employees requesting time off.  Especially in smaller businesses it can be challenging to manage employee vacation requests while still respecting and honouring commitments to your clients and customers.  For the businesses that historically slow down during the summer months the challenge may not be as real as it is for businesses that maintain or increase business during these months.  If summer is a busy season and a challenge to have employees on vacation – consider offering an incentive for employees to take vacation during less busy times.  If you have a traditional time where business slows considerably – consider offering an incentive to your employees to book their vacation during that time.  How about an extra week of vacation if they book it during a specific time?  Be creative.

Time off has positive benefits to both employees and the businesses they work in.  Taking regular vacation time away from work reduces stress, improves focus, has significant health benefits, improves work/life balance, and employees returning from vacation have improved creativity and productivity.  All positive reasons to ensure that your employees are utilizing all of their vacation time!

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