June 2, 2015

Is your business anti-vacation?

Summer is coming! Hey boss, I bet your company has a great time off policy. Do you have vacation plans? Have you asked your employees if they do? If the answer to these questions is no, then you might be labeled "anti-vacation."

Use it or lose it

We imagine that you promote your wonderful time off policies, but do you reinforce them?

One of the best risk management techniques to reduce paid time off liability is the "use it or lose it" policy. Employees are not allowed to accumulate their time and there is typically a year-long period during which if employees do not use those hours, they lose them and the associated pay. The policy of "use it or lose it" reinforces the company's view of the importance of taking a vacation.

The fear factor

Are your employees afraid to take vacation? How would you know if they were? In 2014, a research survey by the U.S. Travel Association and GfK Market Research revealed that nearly 40 percent of respondents did not plan on using all of their paid time off. The top two reasons were 1) the work awaiting them; 2) they believe that no one else can do what they do at the office, and 3) they don't want to appear replaceable. Leadership may be directly or indirectly guilting and intimidating employees if the communication on the issues is not properly managed. Taking an annual employee survey will help you monitor the fear factor at your business.

Leaders and the vacation culture

It begins with you. Start now. Personally, I am trying to be away from the office frequently because I want to spend more time in the desert. It is healthy for me to be away from the office because the staff learns that the company functions well without me. Frankly, I am not getting any younger and my quality of life will eventually diminish to where I cannot vacation easily. Now is the time. At our monthly staff meetings, I share precious vacation moments to help promote our vacation friendly culture and truly celebrate those memories.

Everybody needs it

For 11 years, I worked at a place that made you feel guilty if you took a vacation. After I left the company, I learned the value of getting away from the office. Vacation helps you come back refreshed and your work is WAY better than before you left. The Applied Companies offers a paid 40 hours to participate in community service and volunteerism in addition to the regular time off.

The bottom line

Not seeing the big picture of taking care of employees will hurt your business. The competitive job market allows "A" employees to seek "pro-vacation" companies. I have great pride in the fact that I have never turned down a vacation request, and the reason for that is a strong proactive preparation of cross-training to ensure absences do not cripple us.

Summer is coming! Now that you have had time to think about it, where will you go?

Jim Annis is president/CEO of The Applied Companies, which provide HR solutions for today's workplace. Celeste Johnson and Tom Miller, Applied's division directors, contributed to this article.


Read the article in the Reno Gazette-Journal here.

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