Counselor Commentary: Get Away From It All

Not Taking Vacations Sends Bad Message To Your Staff

Andy CohenThere’s a disturbing trend in the business world these days: People are increasingly saying no to vacations. There’s currently a poll up on that asks: How much vacation time are you taking this summer? The top response: None.

Zero vacation, no time off to recharge. In fact, 42% of respondents to the online poll say they’re not taking any vacation this summer. That result is followed by the 37% who say they’re taking a week off, 13% that are taking two weeks off, and the very lucky 8% who will presumably be taking off the rest of August because they’re taking more than two weeks off.

Those numbers are backed up by a recent survey of small-business owners, which was conducted in June by Staples Inc. According to the survey, 48% of small-business owners skip summer vacations due to fears of leaving their companies. Further, of those that do go on vacation, 44% said they find it hard to relax because they’re constantly thinking about how their business is doing while they’re away.

The trend is a bad one for business. Not only can vacations help to clear the mind and set yourself and your company up for a solid second half of the year, but not taking them sends a bad message to your staff. Whether you mean it or not, it says: I don’t trust you enough to get the job done right while I’m gone. Plus, it sets a tone for others in the company that they’re expected to eschew vacations, as well.

Which is certainly a negative precedent to set, and it’s one that many companies who are members of the Counselor Best Places to Work list avoid as much as possible. Take eCompanyStore (asi/185782), for example. “There’s only so much money you can pay people,” says Craig Callaway, CEO of the company. “What you can really give them that makes the difference is free time to spend with their families.”

So, in addition to encouraging employees to take all of their allotted vacation time, eCompanyStore awards all employees with 21-day mandatory sabbaticals every five years. That’s in addition to any regular vacation time they’re entitled to. “I want people to take the kind of trip they’d never take in a regular week’s vacation, whether it’s going on a mission trip or tracking down a long-lost second cousin,” Callaway says. “We want people to do life-changing stuff and come back revitalized.”

It’s advice that the 42% of people who aren’t taking any vacation this summer should definitely heed.