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It's a balance that we Americans are consistently told we get wrong: weighing the responsibility of getting work done against the need for vacation, rest, and travel. We always hear how the Europeans got summer vacation right, and when we try to make it up by offering employees more paid vacation days, they're too afraid and stressed to take advantage.
So does taking care of your employees mean kicking them out of the office for at least three weeks this summer? The New York Times seems to think so. Here's how the three-week vacation could work for your small business.
The Benefits of Being Gone
Much of Jynne Dilling's defense of long vacations is centered on how much our non-vacation time intrudes on our days off:
But it can be difficult on a weeklong vacation to unwind our anxious psyches. Short trips require quickly shaking off travel fatigue so we can hustle through a sightseeing agenda, trying (and usually failing) to wean ourselves off addictive phone and email checking, maximizing every day of good weather, hoping each flight departs on time and that no one gets sick. In all that hurry, there's little unstructured space to wander and investigate. And without time to spare, wrong turns become sources of squabbles and frustration rather than opportunities for the unexpected.
A person needs more time to decompress, argues Dilling, citing her own experiences travelling and even staying local during a month-long sabbatical. It's a fact that well-rested and happy employees are more positive and productive, so what's the use giving someone a week off and then getting them back more tired and harried than before they left?
Zen and the Art of Vacation
That's the balance that bosses have been struggling with for years: the yin of getting the most out of their employees and the yang of giving them enough time away from work. On one end of the spectrum, some companies take advantage of the fact that they're not required to give employees any paid days off; on the other end, some companies are giving their employees unlimited vacation days. And then there's competing with other companies to lure the best talent with the best benefits package.
Every small business is different, and sending your staff on a mandatory three-week break might not work for you. Or it could be the best thing you've ever done for your workers. If you want to understand the legal issues with expanding your employee benefits, talk to an experienced employment attorney today.
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