Somewhere along the line, not taking vacation time turned into a badge of honor – with COOs, CEOs, and even lower level employees. At dinner parties, people brag about how much time they’ve banked up, or feign exhaustion at the iron man streak of consecutive days they’re on at work.
I’ve never been one to judge, but I have to say this is exceedingly lame.
First off, it’s boring dinner conversation. But beyond that, taking no time off doesn’t prove that you’re working hard, it just shows your priorities are way out of whack.
I have no problem taking vacation time. I love my job, but I also like a lot of other things in life. My job is the means for me to do these things. I am a classic example of ‘working to live,’ rather than ‘living to work.’
So if I treat myself to ample vacation time, it’s only fair that I extend that to my employees. Generous vacation time is one of the most significant contributors to creating a world-class culture there is. And since I suggest that a world-class culture is the foundation of a successful business, the amount of vacation time you allot is paramount.
A lot of my clients ask for a number. I tell them straight up; five weeks.
That’s usually when they start ranting about wasted productivity or pointing at the calendar already packed with government-mandated state holidays and say five weeks is overkill. But I explain to them that working “more” isn’t the same as working “effectively.”
As COO you need to understand that tired, burnt out employees aren’t just useless, they’re downright destructive. Sloppy errors, missed deadlines, mediocre work – this is not the kind of effort that helps COOs grows companies.
Plus, just about any job in the world becomes a “job” if you are at it too much. I’m sure even the head photographer at National Geographic has days where he or she just doesn’t want to get out of bed…
Spreading five weeks vacation throughout the year allows everyone to recharge and keep enthusiasm high.
I even go a step further and encourage employers to educate staff members in wringing the most out of their vacation time. Tips for spreading weeks throughout the year, being sure to take time off during the mid-winter blahs, or even splitting up five days and using them to make long weekends even longer during summertime.
Another considerable advantage of providing generous time off is how easy it makes attracting and retaining talent. Never underestimate the power of vacation time when employees are choosing places to work. Make yours some of the best in town and watch folks flock to you.
It’s complicated math, but it makes sense: to get more out of your employees, give them more time off. They’ll thank you, and then you’ll thank me.
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