You Deserve a Break: Why Planning for Your Summer Vacation May be the Best Thing You Can Do for Your Business Today

Amber Johnson Care for people

Want to make sure you get a summer vacation?

Book it now.

Over the weekend my husband and I got out our calendars (or, more accurately, our iPhones) and began flipping through the summer months trying to get dates on the calendar for our family’s summer vacation.

June was quickly crossed off the list; our son’s school goes until the middle of the month, and I have a work trip at the end. We were aiming for July, but more work travel and community commitments made it impossible to get away. That left August – and to our surprise, out of the whole summer, we could only find one free week.

As a child, I thought summers seemed blissfully endless. Even early in my career, I felt as if work slowed during the warm summer months. But somehow, in the last decade, the calendar has grown relentless. It takes advance planning and firm resolve to keep a single week free for a family getaway.

So here’s your friendly reminder: book your summer vacation NOW, or run the risk of missing out entirely. It may just be the best possible thing you can do today: not just for your personal life, but also for your career and the health of your business. And while you’re at it, encourage your coworkers and employees to schedule their summer breaks as well. Here’s two reasons why:

1. Absence makes the officer stronger: It may seem as if your company will fall a part if you aren’t there. But in reality, a week away gives you a good chance to see how your staff steps up to the plate. Establish a plan that keeps all the bases covered while you’re absent. Then trust your staff to do their job. Most of what needs to get done will get done: and the small amount that gets missed will alert you to weaknesses in your staff or training process.

This applies to your employees’ vacations too. I have a friend who works in the financial industry. His company required a minimum of one “off the grid” vacation week a year. Employees had to leave their laptops and Blackberrys at the office, and were temporarily locked out of their email accounts. The practice was designed to give people a true break from the competitive grind, but it had a bonus effect: fraud detection. The company had noticed a pattern of possibly fraudulent behavior, but was unable to identify the source. When the activity paused for a week, internal auditors were able to pinpoint the vacationing employee who was the source of the behavior.

This is an extreme example, but it’s not unreasonable to think that you might realize that one grumpy employee’s absence meant you had an office full of more cheerful colleagues. Or, alternatively, that one co-worker’s vacation made three times the work for others, because the vacationing employee was really carrying too heavy a burden. Whatever results, be ready to learn and let it make your office stronger.

2. Vacation is good for your long term health. In a longitudinal study of more than 12,000 men who were at risk of heart disease, the men who regularly vacationed lived longer and felt healthier. (More at this link.) Vacation also contributes to more positive emotions, and less depression.

If you want to be present in your personal and professional life, long term, vacation is a good place to start.

In the end, my husband and I have penciled in a week in August for a little R&R with our kids. I’m sure our iPhones – with their connection to our work email accounts – will come on the trip, but they won’t come in the pool where we plan to spend most of our days. The trip will be good for our health, good for our family, and good for the teams we’re part of at our respective workplaces. Now I just need to find a good deal on a hotel.

Amber Johnson is the Center for Values-Driven Leadership‘s corporate relations and social media advisor. She is a non-profit and small business communications professional. For more on this research study, visit Amber’s personal blog.

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