This podcast episode is about the business of taking a vacation and the importance of vacation taking to your business, career, customers, employees, your family, and your health. We’ll be talking about the ways that taking a well-deserved break from time to time, scheduled into your calendar, can impact your bottom line, improve your creativity, help you retain more customers, and make you a better overall manager, business owner, and a better employee (if the first two career tracks don’t necessarily apply to you).
I have several friends in the field of academics. These friends are teaching at various levels and over the years a few of them have taken sabbaticals. It has always fascinated me that there are actually some career paths where backing away from the intensity of the work is tolerated and even encouraged.
I did a little research and found that the word “sabbatical” has roots in the Greek language coming from the word sabbatikos which means “of the sabbath”. Many may recognize the word sabbath as coming from the Hebrew word shabbat or “joyful day of rest”. After looking up the word sabbatical and understanding its roots, it made me really happy for my teaching friends that they were taking joyful periods of rest away from their work. But it made me a little sad that I couldn’t do this with the career path I had chosen. Or could I? So while I couldn’t take a year or more off of work, what I started to do was create little pockets of time on my schedule to decompress.
A while back, I attended a really fantastic yoga and meditation retreat. It was held in the dead of winter at a time when all of the insanity of daily life during the warmer months was at a slower pace. Like a lot of people, I felt selfish for having taken an entire weekend all to myself, leaving behind family and friends. I also felt guilty for spending money on my own personal quest for spiritual growth and nourishment. And as a business owner, I felt as if I was slacking off knowing that I could have been working on a few big projects that weekend.
But during the retreat, the facilitator talked about one of his favorite books. He referenced a book by the author Wayne Muller. The title of the book is “Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives”. I wrote down the title of the book in my notes, but didn’t download the book to my e-reader until weeks later. One of the quotes that particularly struck me was where Muller says, “Our lack of rest and reflection is not just a personal affliction. It colors the way we build and sustain community, it dictates the way we respond to suffering, and it shapes the ways in which we seek peace and healing in the world.” So to those of you listening to this podcast, know that this aspect of vacation, rest and renewal is not just about hitting the beach or the mountains for the week or enjoying a week at home sleeping in with nothing to do. This idea of taking a break is big, because it has the potential to affect the world.
I finished reading it the other day and now understand the importance of taking a break, a vacation, a rest, a respite, or creating time in my schedule to renew myself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually so I can continue to serve the communities of which I am a part.
So as managers and business owners, it is our responsibility to encourage our employees to take time off to rest and renew. We need to create cultures in our organizations where we honor the need for the human body, spirit, and mind to rest. To deny someone the vacation time they’ve earned, to make someone feel as if his or her taking time off will hurt the organization, or to create roadblocks for vacation time to be taken, is wrong. I’ve worked for organizations where these conditions have existed.
As managers and business owners consider these as best practices for ensuring the health of your organizational human resource component:
- Keep track of vacation schedules to make sure that no one is carrying the time over to the new year.
- Celebrate when someone comes back from vacation by encouraging them to share their experience through their photos and stories. Create time during the employee’s first day back on the job to do this.
- Consider email software or an email process that will ease the email overload that is inevitable upon the employee’s return to work.
- Cross train members of your department or team to cover for the vacationing employee.
- Encourage employees to digitally disengage while on vacation.
- Pitch in to take up the slack when and where you can.
If you are someone’s employee and you are listening to this podcast, know that it is important for you to take the time you have coming to you when it comes to vacation. I have been a part of many conversations where I’ve been told by friends and those I coach that they are afraid to take time off for fear of the mountain of work that will be waiting for them when they come back to their desks. Others have confided that they fear not having a job at all if they take time off. My heart breaks when I hear this.
Employees need time off to give the body, mind, and spirit time to rest and renew. A rested employee can contribute to the bottom line in so many ways:
- A rested employee is more patient with difficult customers.
- Employees who have had time off tend to be more creative.
- Employees who have vacationed with family or friends feel a greater sense of work-life integration.
- An employee who is refreshed through vacation may be more willing to take on challenging assignments.
- Rested employees are happier employees and happier employees mean happier customers.
Businesses need to begin to think of employee vacation time as an investment in their workforce. Know that you are investing in their physical, mental, and spiritual health and well-being.
Remember that without rest, we cannot sustain the energy we need to have a fulfilling work life. Without rest, we cannot sustain the energy to have a fulfilling personal life. Without rest, we run the risk of physical illness, injury and loss.
Take your vacation time. If this isn’t possible, take shorter breaks in the form of long weekends. If this isn’t possible, take little breaks scheduled on your calendar throughout the day to push away from the desk to rest. Or consider using Sunday as the day that you will dedicate to physical, mental, and spiritual renewal. Genesis tells us that even God rested on the seventh day. Your organization, customers, vendors, employees, and family are counting on you!