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What Summer?

by Guest Writter

All of the local news channels in our area are in the “back- to-school” programming mode. There are features about how to get the most from the last few weeks of summer, trying to get kids back on a regular schedule and planning for back-to-school shopping.

With all of the attention, I had to stop and go back to count how many days I had taken off this summer. It was telling. Not many.

I know what you are thinking. “It’s your own fault.”  You are right. While most of my staff have planned and taken vacation time, I did not. I had to question why I, and countless other business owners, encourage our staff to take time off but don’t’ take our own advice.  It’s not an easy answer. But here are a few of the things that I believe every business owner considers.

Picking up the Slack
During summer, there simply are not enough bodies around to do all the work. When employees are off, someone has to pick up the slack. Generally, that someone is the business owner. One business owner I know that operates a snack company routinely gets on a truck to run the routes of his vacationing drivers.  The owner of a rental company goes back to pulling orders and dispatching trucks to cover for those who are off. Because most business owners know every aspect of their operation they can slip in and out of jobs to fill the gaps.

Cost of Hiring Temporary Staff
Depending upon the operation, it may be difficult to hire individuals who can come in and be productive for short periods of time. In fact, temporary workers might do more damage than good as fill-ins. Not to mention, the cost may be an expense that the business may not want to incur. If a business has part-time employees, the owner might give them extra hours to cover for employees on leave but not everyone has access to these employees.

Loss of Income
For many business owners a vacation translates to a loss of income. If they are not working, the business is not making money. This is especially true for a smaller organization where the owner is the sales person, the operations manager, the producer of goods or services and the billing department.  Many service providers I know are especially concerned that customers may have needs and they will not be able to respond while on vacation.  Technology has made it easier to work remotely, but depending upon the service it may not be appropriate.

Of course there are also business owners who are simply “workaholics” and just don’t want to go on vacation.

The lack of vacation is not just a small business issue. Many of my corporate clients who work for large organizations report the same challenges.  In a quick poll I took, they reported having fewer people on staff and increased workloads as the main reasons.

So…how do you get that much needed time off?

I have found a few ways. First, take shorter breaks- a long weekend as opposed to a full week.  It’s amazing what a few days away will do for you especially if you get a real change of scenery. Next, try to schedule vacation outside of summer when your staff is running lean. Finally, just force yourself to get away. If you don’t, you’ll be asking “What summer?” well into the fall.

By the way fall is a lovely time of year and most vacation spots are a lot less crowded and less expensive.

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