Think You Can't Take A Vacation? The Sound Business Reasons You Really Should

We know—you're totally, utterly indispensable to your business. Right? Think again: Here are 10 reasons work is better off without you for a while. Now skeedaddle.

Now that it's summer, it's a good time to remind yourself that you should go on a vacation—and not feel guilty about it.

Here are 10 reasons why the business is better off without you for awhile: 

1. Going on a vacation shows you are competent. It is proof that you are good at your job because you can manage and plan enough to free up some time in your schedule—and not leave a festering mess in your absence. Not being able to take a vacation for years shows that you and your team are so out of control that you can't even be gone for a week.

2. No one is impressed if you don't. Bragging that you have not had a vacation in years or that you have maxed out on vacation days is not scoring points with anyone. If you think your company or your team see it as a super-keen work-ethic, and admires you for it—they don't.

3. Your team is motivated. When you show by example that you support and allow people to have a life, they will be more motivated to contribute. As long as you don't send them email every day while you are "on vacation"! Set the expectation you will be generally out of touch. If you can't stand to let go entirely, arrange 1-2 scheduled check-in points, but don't just go somewhere else and keep working.

4. Your team gets more productive. When you go away, you give your team a break from doing and worrying about all the things you throw in their way when they are trying to get their work done. After about 2 weeks, they will miss you and need you again, but in the mean time, their productivity will actually go up.

5. Being unavailable helps people develop. Being unreachable for periods of time is actually a very effective technique for developing people. It forces them to step up. If they think they can reach you at all times, they will never bother to think bigger, learn, and take risks—they'll just ask you. Just be careful not to un-do everything they did in your absence just because it was different than the way you would have done it.

6. You will be more productive. If you step away from the day to day chaos and give your back-of-mind processes a chance to chew on things while you are in a good (or at least different) mood, you'll think new thoughts. You will solve problems you might not solve if you stay fully engaged at all times.

7. You will prioritize better. Stepping away helps make it clear that some of the things that you thought were vitally important before your vacation don't actually need to get done after all. When you step away, the difference becomes more clear. The most strategic things re-assert themselves and all the clutter drops several notches in volume.

8. You let other people be "important." If you refuse to leave ever, you are sending the message that you are the only important person. Giving others the chance to be in charge, make decisions, speak on your behalf and solve problems sends the message that you have confidence in your team. This builds your credibility with your team, your peers, and your management more than pretending that the business can't live without you for a moment. (Which doesn't really build your credibility at all.)

9. Your company benefits. Your company prefers people who enjoy their life because they have more positive energy for their work. They are more effective and more productive. People who have interests outside of work also deal with pressures and disappointments in the workplace with more resilience and confidence.

10. You need a break, whether you know it or not!

Finally, if something comes up in your business that you really can't avoid handling personally, and you need to cancel your vacation, reschedule another one while you are canceling. This will minimize resentment and disappointment, give you something to look forward to—and ensure you don't get too full of your self-importance, and go too long without a vacation.


Patty Azzarello is the author of Rise: 3 Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, and Liking Your Life.

[Image: Flickr user arturodonate]

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  • michael410

    This logic may apply in some cases, but not always, especially in this day and age where companies are trying harder to do more with less.

    You talk about how my absence would benefit the "team" and would make me feel more productive. Thanks to my company cutting 2/3 of the staff over 5 years, I'm no longer part of a "team." I have the combined responsibilities of what used to be 3 departments, and I do it all myself. If I'm gone, it's pure chaos, and their solution is to call me every time they can't figure something out. This is more stressful to me than actually being at work. Why would I sign up for that?

  • Bill

    I agree that people who never use their vacation time should not brag about it. No vacation is lame, even just a staycation is worthwhile.

  • Frdhorse83

    I must agree with this. Traditionally the thought is your employer only cares about your productivity, which still holds true. BUT, and this is a big but, a GOOD employer knows that if you are happy and rested you can contribute more ideas and overall be more productive. It is similar to the difference between a boss and a leader. I have worked for both and prefer, as all do, a leader to a boss any day. I work in sales right now and if you don't sale you don't eat. As the saying goes, "we can do zero without you." However, my management is constantly hanging incentives out there for us to take advantage of. The most sought after are the trips, 4 day beach getaways, and mountain chalet stays. My office is number 3 in the nation out of over 600 offices across the nation. We are in Nashville and compete with California and all the other "rich" areas. We perform because our management encourages us to have a life outside of work. 

  • Kent Julian

    Hi Patty. I have personally found that investing in ourselves through true leisure is one of
    the most important keys to success in life. It refreshes, adds aroma, and brings amazing
    pleasure that only gets better and sweeter when we share it with the most important people in our lives. Thanks for sharing! 

  • mattmchugh

    Of all the raging misconceptions in this article the most outlandish is the implication that your company somehow wants you to be happy so you will be more productive.  Wrong.  Your company wants you to be more productive.  Period.  It doesn't care how you do it.  And it doesn't care if you burn out along the way.  You are disposable to your company.  If you think otherwise it is simply because your company has, at the moment, a need you fill that would be inconvenient to fill otherwise.  When your company has no more use for you -- due to changing market conditions or internal re-organizations or what you will -- your being tan, rested and ready will matter not a jot.

    Your company exists to take from everything it can.  Do the same to it.

    That, and that alone, it the best reason to take your vacation.

  • Patty Azzarello

    This is the author here...
    I am smiling looking at your intro - "of all of the raging misconceptions here"... because I agree with what you are saying.

    Your company DOES only care about your productivity. Full stop. However, you will be more productive if you take a break, so you have the energy and fresh perspective to solve bigger and more important problems.

    Saying "your company wants you to be happy" I agree, is not the top order point -- you will be more productive if you are happier, therefore your company benefits from your being happy because they benefit from you being more productive. 

    If you can get more productive without being happy, that would work too. (but not as good for you!).

    thanks, Patty

  • Amit Pandey

    It's more or less for business owners or at most top management; but the point is either of them have a  mental blockage that it's impossible, more likely for business owners... It would be even better if we get to read an article that mentions how that mental block can be converted... Thanks for the nice article :)

  • Deena McClusky

    In a perfect world all of this would be true. In the real world, however, I have been told directly by employers that they do not want you to have outside interests or a personal life because they want you so committed and driven to the work that by the time you go home you won't have time or energy to do anything but sleep. I have also been directly told by a different employer in a productivity review that by taking time off I was considered undependable. So all this is lovely in theory but that's about all.

  • Tammy Colson

    Those two employers aren't keeping employees around for any length of time, nor are they getting the best those employees have to offer. That is not the way humans function with any efficiency or innovation -  and the sooner we realize it, the better off (and actually more productive) we will be as a nation. And for having to experience awful managers like that, you have my condolences. 

  • Been There

    I have been an exec level manager for years, and I always insist my managers and directors take their vacations, and their teams, too. The past two years I have failed to do so myself, and the burnout is evident. I used to always take my time away to refresh, rewind, and reconnect with myself and my family.

    It was out of necessity I had to skip for two years, and I always thought I was "doing it for the company" and I could "make it up" to myself later. This was partly because we had a new president who is manipulative and filled with hubris, and thought everyone should put business first.

    I left the company last month, along with several other execs who have left over the past few months by choice or force (company is losing business - shocking with such bad leadership, right?)

    I took a vacation the last two weeks and boy has it made a difference. I realize that putting work first all the time means I'm not at the top of my game, and I'm not ready to draw on my 'reserves' when a big crunch-time comes. By cheating myself and my family I achieved nothing.

    My own directors pointed out to me that I wasn't taking my own advice. We need to lead by example, and we need to take care of ourselves and our families first.

  • Ralph Bagnall

    Perhaps more important than any of those reasons is that seeing the same things and talking with the same people every day means that you are likely to have the same thought patterns every day.

    A radical change in venue and conversations can spark amazing new ideas and even ways of thinking. You can't think outside the box if you never leave the box.

    Ralph Bagnall