Tanveer Naseer

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

Thinking Of Skipping Your Vacation This Summer? Think Again

A few days ago, my wife and I decided to take the kids to the beach, to take advantage of the beautiful summer weather that’s been absent in previous years. Admittedly, I did question whether I should bring along my laptop to use some of that lounging-around time to do some writing and such. It only took a moment’s consideration, though, for me to dispel the idea, preferring instead to use this time to watch my kids build sandcastles, or simply floating in the water while my mind drifted off. After all, spending time in such carefree pursuits is what we often associate with taking time off work to enjoy our lives.

Unfortunately, many people are either feeling guilty about taking time off work to go on vacation or worse still, forgoing it altogether in favour of staying ‘on the job’ in order to try and diminish the number of issues currently found on their plates. Many leaders have been very public about their decision to skip taking a vacation this year, rationalizing that it would be unwise to be away from the office given the problems arising from today’s economic climate.

And yet, the reality is that the only unwise thing about these situations is thinking that you’re helping your team by not taking time off from work, a decision that can prove to be more harmful than beneficial for you or your organization. To help prove my point, here are four reasons why you should be going on vacation this summer.

1. Revive your productivity and with it, your team’s
There’s been a lot written lately about the connection between taking regular breaks in your day and your level of productivity. While these daily breaks can keep us going over the short term, it’s vital that we take longer breaks from work to sustain and even build our creativity and productivity. Being away from your work environment for a longer period of time will help you gain a fresh perspective about your work, as well as providing you with the opportunity to pursue your other interests.

It’s also important to remember that people in your team are depending on you to do your job well. So allowing yourself to get worn out at work will not only affect your overall job performance, but also the ability of your team mates to effectively do theirs as well. As such, skipping over your vacation will not only have an impact on your productivity, it can also create frustrations within the team, which can have a deleterious effect on the organization’s morale.

2. Vacation time is part of your remuneration; it’s not a job perk
If you think back to when you interviewed for this job, you’ll probably remember not only reviewing the salary and fringe benefits that came with it, but also how much vacation time you’d get. Naturally, this is one of the most important considerations when taking on a new job as we want to make sure that we’d have time to pursue our other interests outside of work.

This is what makes it all the more ironic that the first thing we willingly forsake at work is taking that time we’re given to relax and enjoy the fruits of our labour. Part of the problem is that we’ve shifted our perception of vacation time to be something that is given to us as a job perk. The reality is that vacation time is a part of our remuneration; a return on the investment of our time and expertise in helping our organization to reach their objectives.

Think of it this way – how many of us would refuse an end-of-year bonus or salary increase out of concern that taking it might reflect poorly on us? Obviously, none of us would do this because we understand that such offers represent a return on the hard work and contributions we’ve offered to the company. It’s time we get back to making that connection with our vacation time as well.

3. Serve as a role model for others in your team
As I mentioned above, many leaders have been very public about their intentions to skip taking any vacation this year, in order to help their organization address the problems they’re currently facing. On the surface, this might seem like a welcome gesture; that a company’s leadership doesn’t want to leave their employees holding the bag while they go off to enjoy themselves. Ironically, such a move is more damaging to the team’s morale and productivity than being of any help, symbolically or otherwise.

As a leader, it’s important to remember that your employees will look to you for guidance of what will be allowed and what will be frowned upon. By not taking any time off work, your employees will feel pressured to also forgo their vacation time as well. Or if they do go on vacation, it will be with much concern over how they will be perceived by the organization’s leadership. Remember that taking care of your employees also means taking care of yourself as their leader.

Of course, this is not only an issue for leaders to take note of, as even employees can serve as a guide for others in their team in showing that – despite the workload that might be building on your desk – it’s still critical for you to take time off work in order to maintain your effectiveness in your role.

4. Show your team they can manage without you
It’s easy for many leaders, as well as employees, to feel like they are indispensable to their team or organization; that being away for any given period of time would introduce the risk of others not knowing how to manage things in your absence. While this might make us feel good about our contributions, this is far from a healthy situation for your organization, both in terms of your company’s growth and overall morale. Taking time off from work will encourage your team members and yourself to develop strategies and abilities that will help them to learn how to effectively hold down the fort while you’re away.

Although this is something that we’d normally associate with those in leadership positions, the reality is we’ve all experienced times where others in our team come asking for our help and support. By providing them with opportunities where they have to manage for themselves, you can help your team mates develop the skills and assurance to know they can manage just fine – even if only for a short time – without your direct support or assistance.

In today’s economic climate, it’s easy for us to fall into the belief that we need to sacrifice our free time for the sake of the greater good or worse, succumb to the fear that taking a vacation will cast us in a negative light among our peers. The reality, though, is that we need our leaders and employees to bring their best efforts to reaching the organization’s objectives. The best way to ensure that is to encourage your team members to take time away from facing these issues so that they might bring a fresh perspective and new ideas on how to attain these shared goals.

Click here to subscribe to my blog so you can get my latest posts sent directly to your inbox.

13 Comments » | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | July 15, 2010 by |

13 Comments
  1. On July 15th, 2010 at 7:18 AM Richard A Marti Jr. said:

    It is so important to rejuvenate. We are choosing to do it in a way that uses no Fossil Fuels and staying close to home. It also sets the example for our kids that there are healthy wholesome ways to recharge our batteries.

  2. On July 15th, 2010 at 8:32 AM Tanveer Naseer said:

    That's a good point you bring up, Richard, about ensuring that we set the right example for our kids. As parents, we all hope that our children will have a 'better' life. As with other aspects of parenting, we need to make sure we demonstrate to our children how to maintain a healthy balance between meeting your obligations for work and making time to take care of yourself and spending time with your family.

    Thanks for your comment, Richard and for bringing this point up in the discussion.

  3. On July 15th, 2010 at 9:04 AM Andra Watkins said:

    Tanveer, this is such a great article. I couldn't function without a vacation. Owning a business means I work all the time, or am tempted to, because it is always handy. A vacation, without my computer along, ensures that I unplug and take a breather. I've even gone on vacations without my mobile, and it has been sheer bliss. Sure, I had things to deal with when I returned, but I was ready to tackle them by taking time away from them.

  4. On July 15th, 2010 at 9:06 AM Drew Hawkins said:

    Great post Tanveer. Definitely highlighted the necessity of vacation. I like your vantage point on not looking at time-off as a perk but something needed to improve productivity. I know when I take weekend excursions to visit family or my fiancee, I basically shut off all my internet resources and keep the iPhone off for the most part. Part of shutting down is (for me) detaching myself from the tools that keep me busy and avoiding temptation to not completely unwind.

  5. On July 15th, 2010 at 1:50 PM Mary Jo Asmus said:

    Tanveer,

    Our organizations have a role to play in this issue too. They need to make it comfortable and possible – indeed, to encourage – people to take their vacations.

    I have the good fortune of working with a large tech organization that believes it makes sense to encourage work-life balance. They do provide training aimed at this. That same organization granted a client – a hard working high potential – a lengthy sabbatical as a way of recognizing his accomplishments and encouraging him to take care of himself.

    He made sure that his team could be without him for that period of time and did not respond to email or voicemail. I know this firsthand – he completely disconnected.

    His response to my question when I asked, “What did this sabbatical prepare you for?” was “The next big challenge!”. Quite a testimonial to value of taking a break.

  6. On July 16th, 2010 at 7:36 AM Tanveer Naseer said:

    @Andra – Thanks Andra; I'm glad you enjoyed this piece. I think for small business owners, it can seem more difficult to take time off to enjoy a vacation because your business has a greater dependency on you as compared to larger businesses. However, it's for this very reason why small business owners need to an extended break from work – for your business to succeed, you need to be at your best performance, something that can become very hard to do if you don't give yourself time to catch your breath and reassess.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with this, Andra.

    @Drew – Thanks Drew. I think the point about understanding that vacation time is not a perk, but a necessity is a very important as both Andra and yourself have both pointed out how taking that time away from work actually renewed your energy levels so that whatever tasks were awaiting for you at work, you'd have no problems taking them on with your best efforts.

    Thanks again Drew for taking the time to add your thoughts to the discussion.

    @Mary Jo – I absolutely agree with you that organizations need to make their employees feel good about taking their vacation time, which is why I think it's a bad idea for leaders to forgo their vacations under the assumption that it shows camaraderie with their workforce. While organizations can have it written as some policy that employees are entitled to their vacations, it'd be hard for employees to feel like they won't be viewed negatively by others in their team for taking what is rightfully theirs.

    What a great idea that is about providing training to employees about the necessity of taking vacations. With so many companies looking to start wellness programs to help address the rise in health issues in the workplace, I think it is just as important to offer tangible proof to people about why taking vacation time is not a luxury, but a necessity both for their own personal well-being and their ability to contribute significantly and effectively to the team effort.

    That's a great example and point you share here, Mary Jo. Thanks for sharing it in this discussion.

  7. On July 16th, 2010 at 4:30 PM Mark A. Griffin said:

    Great article! So very true. I have watched many managers and executives over the years skip vacations and work incredibly long hours, the sad aspect of their actions is that everyone around them knew they were performing poorly because they were burned out. Most often I find those who skip vacation time not only suffer from a lack of self esteem they may also are incapable of delegation. I do support long hours when appropropriate for short term projects with definitive end points.

  8. On July 16th, 2010 at 6:44 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks Mark; I appreciate that.

    I agree with you that part of the problem among those who choose to skip taking any vacation time is their inability to delegate responsibilities to others, in large part because they doubt others would be capable of doing the work to the same degree as they would. As I mentioned in my piece, such thinking is hardly pragmatic or beneficial for the individual or the organization as it creates a false impression both of the person's true worth for the team, as well devaluing the efforts of others in the organization.

    And you're right that the surest path to burning out is attempting to push ahead without giving your mind and body a chance to recharge and get back into shape.

    Thanks, Mark, for sharing your experiences with this.

  9. On November 2nd, 2010 at 12:27 PM Thomas said:

    Vacations are so important to your well being and the well being of those around you. Great job highlighting this…now lets see if I can talk the boss into that beach house vaca:)

  10. On November 2nd, 2010 at 7:53 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks Thomas. There have been a few articles published in the last few weeks that are reinforcing the reality that taking vacations are not only good for employees, but its also beneficial for their organizations as it does lead to better productivity, if not also diminished stress levels in their workforce. Hopefully these reports will encourage employees to fully use their allocated vacation time, if not also having leaders being more proactive in pushing their employees to take time off from work.

    Thanks again, Thomas, for sharing your thoughts on this piece.

  11. On January 25th, 2012 at 8:41 PM Tabby said:

    I never feel guilty about taking vacation. It's mine, and I'm taking it. In fact I think I spend too much working already. I'm looking for alternative income streams so I can cut back and work part time. I turned 25 yesterday and realized I don't really do much but work. I don't want to wake up in 15 years and realize I've done nothing I really want in life!

  12. On January 27th, 2012 at 6:17 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Sounds like you're starting your career with the right mindset, Tabby. In fact, your approach is very representative of your generation (Millennials/Gen Y) which studies have shown don't feel they need to commit their lives to work, but can have some balance to pursue other interests. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

  13. On November 29th, 2013 at 4:05 PM Lusile said:

    Tanveer, this is such a great article. I couldn't operate without a holiday. Being in business means I work all time, or am influenced to, because it is always useful. A holiday, without my computer along, guarantees that I remove and take a rest. I've even gone on holidays without my cellular, and it has been actual happiness. Sure, I had things to cope with when I came back, but I was ready to cope with them by spending a while away from them.

Your Comment: