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Is Vacation Good or Bad for Your Small Business? An Expert Weighs In

17. June 2016 07:45

family of four jumping on the beach

Plenty of studies show that small-business owners don’t take vacations. In fact, a study from the online lender OnDeck shows…

When you’re the person running the show, it’s hard to step away. Unfortunately, all that nonstop work might hurt your business.

We spoke to Jennifer Sabatini Fraone (@sabatinj), the associate director of the Boston College Center for Work & Family (@BCCWF), to learn why it’s important to recharge your batteries.

Vacations Make You a Better Boss

According to Sabatini Fraone, evidence shows Americans leave millions of dollars on the table because they don’t take their vacation days every year, but there are a lot of reasons that can seem like the right choice for owners.

“They are the visionaries who developed the business," says Sabatini Fraone. "They know what their goals and their vision are for the business, and it would be hard to step away from that.”  

Skipping vacation time, however, can be damaging to both your physical and mental health. Research shows a link between a lack of vacations and increased risks for heart disease and depression, says Sabatini Fraone.

Holiday hint: Taking the long view can reshape your thinking about vacations. Sabatini Fraone recommends asking yourself, “Can I sustain the pace of my work over the long term and be here for my business and be the leader that I want to be if I’m not really taking care of my own health and well-being?”

Employees Need Downtime, Too

Your attitude toward vacations can trickle down to your employees. Sabatini Fraone points out that if the leadership’s expectation is 60 to 70-hour work weeks and constant availability, many employees may feel like they're risking the job if they take an extended vacation.

This stance is detrimental to their health, but it can also have a damaging effect on your business. “Employees are not machines,” says Sabatini Fraone. “You can’t just drive them into the ground and expect them to perform and be innovative, energetic, and engaged when they come to work.”

Holiday hint: Sabatini Fraone says owners can lead by example by making downtime a priority. Take a vacation and encourage your employees to get a little R&R, too.

How to Take a Vacation Even If You Think You Can’t

Of course, wanting a vacation and making it happen can be light years apart, especially for small-business owners. Here are some ideas that might make taking a break easier:

Holiday hint: These suggestions may seem like they require a lot of extra work, but the planning may be worth it. “Sometimes your best ideas come to you when you’re not actually trying to think of a new idea,” says Sabatini Fraone. “We don't allow ourselves a lot of space and time to just think and that can really impede our productivity in the long run.”

Vacations aren’t the only way you and your employees can take a breather. Find out more in “Should Your Business Have Shorter Hours in the Summer?

About Jennifer Sabatini Fraone

Jennifer Sabatini Fraone

Jennifer Sabatini Fraone is the associate director of communications and programming at the Boston College Center for Work & Family. She works closely with the Boston College Workforce Roundtable, a learning and networking community for over 50 leading employers, as well as the New England Work & Family Association (NEWFA). In addition to managing all CWF marketing initiatives, Sabatini Fraone works with organizations to provide research and consultation on flexibility, work-life balance, and other workforce management issues. She is also the founder of the Fox 25 News Boston Work-Life Wednesday segment.


General | Small Business | Tips for All Small Businesses

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