Only 38% of Americans said that they take all of their vacation days, according to the Expedia survey, with most only using a small portion of the coveted benefit. CNN Money
A manager’s life is riddled with unexpected schedule demands and very little ability to get sick, much less go on vacation. The ship must be set up to continue to sail in your absence. What started me thinking of this was a cold that went from bad to worse, forcing me out of the office for a couple of days. Lucky for me I had a plan in place and a great team that not only allowed me to get the rest I needed to come back strong, but kept our department from missing a beat while I was under the weather.
When you’re in charge of managing a business, your business and employees rely on you to do your job, provide direction, bail them out of crises, perform standard day-to-day tasks and so on. The fear sets in when you begin imagining what possibly could or does happen when you’re out of pocket.
Here is a common fall out item you probably can relate to:
For a few employees, an authority figure’s absence signals a holiday—a chance to suspend the rules and expectations. Bloomberg Businessweek
No wonder an American Express survey reported that only 46% of business owners are even planning to take a vacation this year. The extra stress coming may not be worth the day or two away that was supposed to be used to recharge yourself.
At the end of the day, it is important for you and your employees to have a level of trust. Empower everyone to run the business with clearly defined expectations in place. What you need is prior planning and tools in place to prevent poor quality work and promote a chance to shine.
Share the Spotlight: At all times, find management items that you can share with your staff that give them the opportunity to manage something of their own, gain a new experience, and make them accountable for something larger. Pre-assigned, regularly scheduled tasks will continue to be managed properly, so when you are gone you can rest assured these items are handled.
Break Glass: Provide an emergency action plan that details what to do in case you are unavailable. Have the information cover, at a minimum, an entire week and go over it regularly with two trusted staff members. Communicate the existence of the plan and who is to administer it to your entire staff. If you make it a checklist you can monitor how it was administered upon your return.
Sense of Security: Make yourself reachable at some designated point and time during your absence, if at all possible. This provides a sense of security for your employees, and makes it difficult for them to ignore or unburden themselves when a decision needs to be made. Knowing there is a safety net gives people more moxie to do what needs to be done on their own.
You may think, “Sure, I have to do all this extra work just to take a vacation.” But the cost of not taking a vacation may be higher than you think.
Sometimes the stress of taking a needed and well-earned break just doesn’t seem worth it…
And that may not be a good thing. The Families and Work Institute study found that overworked employees are more likely to make mistakes, to be angry at their employers and at colleagues who do not work as hard. These employees are also more likely to have higher stress levels, experience symptoms of clinical depression, report poorer health and neglect themselves.
If that’s not enough to persuade you, consider these statistical findings:
- Increase your lifespan—study suggests that men who take vacations every year reduce their overall risk of death by about 20 percent
- Recharge your brain—the odds of being depressed increased as the frequency of vacation decreased according to another study
- Positive outlook—34 percent of the survey respondents reported feeling better about their jobs and more productive after taking a vacation.
- Refresh—studies show that when you take a break your mind has time to slow down and let the innovative thoughts flow to solve complex problems—creativity isn’t an on-call skill, it is something that can only be accessed when you are open and can think flexibly.
Taking a vacation has benefits that make it easier to be and stay a top performer. Therefore, take what you’ve earned and get a lot more in return. Don’t just plan your next vacation, do what you do best and manage it well so it counts.