Breaking point

Departments - Viewpoint

Leave the laptop behind, turn off the cell phone and get some R&R.

August 3, 2016

It’s no secret that many business owners (and managers) don’t take the idea of vacation too seriously. For some it’s a problem with giving up control and failure to delegate, for others it’s a lack of planning.

But time away from the office is critical to your personal health and the health of your business. I’m talking a real vacation with limited or no contact with the office. No email. No spreadsheets. I know a few people that practically have a panic attack at the thought of going incommunicado. I’ve had moments like that, but thankfully I’ve mellowed. I’m looking forward to a week in Colorado for a much-needed family vacation. Nothing is more relaxing to me than breathing cool mountain air and listening to the wind blow through the aspens. I’m no mountaineer or explorer like John Muir, but his words, “The mountains are calling, and I must go …” hit me square in my soul.

study by Project: Time Off ( found that 55 percent of Americans did not use all of their vacation in 2015. Sadly, I’m not too surprised by this statistic, although I didn’t expect it to be more than 50 percent! What happens when we don’t take vacation (even if it’s a staycation)? Workaholics are often plagued by health problems – stress, high blood pressure, lack of sleep, and weight gain, to name a few. It also affects productivity and creativity. Once you take time off from work (I’m not talking a day or two, although that’s better than nothing, I suppose): your stress levels plummet, which allows you to concentrate better and be a more pleasant person to be around; your creativity levels increase; and productivity jumps. This goes for all of your employees. Are you encouraging staff to use all of their vacation? Probably not. Project: Time Off found that business owners or managers are likely creating the culture that keeps employees from using their paid time off. A whopping 80 percent of employees said if they felt fully supported and encouraged by their boss, they would be likely to take more time off.

Some 58 percent of employees report a lack of support from their boss and 53 percent sense a lack of support from their colleagues. According to the research, “Employees may not sense support because their work environments do not provide any direction about vacation.”

Don’t be silent about time off. First, you have to lead by example and take your own time to unplug and recharge. Next, have open discussions about time-off planning, including delegation and why it’s important to the health of your employees and the company to use vacation days.