November 25, 2022

Small Business Advice

Vacations Forced

Jerry Osteryoung | 12/3/2007

Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
— Robert Fulghum

In many ways, the holidays are extremely stressful for both you and your staff. One way to help alleviate this stress is to encourage your staff to take vacations around this time of year. From creating balance in their lives to reducing stress, taking time off is beneficial to your staff in so many ways.

A study by Expedia showed that 51% of employees do not take all of their vacation time. I believe that a vacation is not a voluntary option but rather, it is a mandatory item that frequently must be forced on your staff. While working is important, the ability to come into work with a fresh vantage point is even more important. So many times, this new vantage point is achieved simply by taking time off.

I know that when I take time off (professors do not get any set vacation time), I come back with so many creative ideas. My staff knows that when I return, we are going to be doing so many different things. In fact, they frequently beg me not to take vacations.

I think that sometimes employees resist taking time off because they fear that taking vacations is a sign of weakness rather than strength. Other reasons are company policies that discourage taking time off by offering payment for unused vacation time. While it appears good at first blush, I just think that these policies are fraught with difficulty. Many employees simply will not take the requisite time off if they feel that they need the money more. While the financial compensation might be beneficial to the employee, it works against the well being of the entire company.

Managers must encourage staff to take vacations. In order to accomplish this, many firms notify their managers when employees come close to forfeiting their vacation time. Rand Corporation encourages staff to take time off by paying them a 5% bonus if they use all of their vacation time. This firm just knows it is good business to force staff to take time off.

I have seen too many cases where workers who do not take time off end up getting burned out. The bottom line is that each entrepreneur has the responsibility to make sure that their staff takes all of their vacation time for the benefit of both the company and the employee.

Now make sure that you encourage staff to take vacations this time of the year, and put a policy in place for dealing with unused leave. I promise you that the more vacation time your staff uses, the better your firm will be.

You can do this!

Jerry Osteryoung is the Jim Moran Professor of Entrepreneurship in the College of Business at Florida State University. He is also the Director of the Entrepreneurship Program at FSU and Executive Director of the Jim Moran Institute of Global Entrepreneurship. He can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 850-644-3372.

Tags: Florida Small Business

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