Vacation Time: 17 Tips & Rules for Employees, CEOs and Organizations

It’s summertime and people are thinking about going on vacation. Soaking up the sun on the beach or hiking up the mountains? Whichever you prefer, all employees must take vacation time off.

What this article talks about:

  • 6 rules for good managers to encourage employees to take their vacation time;
  • 8 tips for employees looking to have a relaxing and guilt-free vacation;
  • 1 rule for CEOs to follow in order to have a relaxing vacation;
  • 2 vacation policy recommendations for organizations (with examples).


Americans – the No Vacation Nation

A recent survey conducted by Kimble Applications dubs the Americans the No Vacation Nation. This survey concludes Americans are overworked, under pressure and not taking time off from work.

Here are the survey’s main findings on how many Americans take time off and why they struggle to leave the office and go on vacation:

  • 53% don’t take their vacation days;
  • 27% say they just have too many projects or deadlines to take time off;
  • 13% fear they’ll return to too much work;
  • 19% are anxious about being away from work;
  • When they do go on vacation 48% say they proactively check in on work;
  • 14% believe that employees are more likely to succeed and advance in their career if they choose not to take all
  • of their vacation time;
  • 19 % say that they’ve felt pressured by their employer or manager to not take their vacation time off.

What are the consequences of this situation?

Accumulated stress, increased fatigue, depression, decreased productivity rates and ultimately burn out.

On May 25, theWorld Health Organization (WHO) formally defined the syndrome as energy depletion, exhaustion and negativity resulting from chronic workplace stress (source).

Working while on vacation is also bad for your health. It ruins your relationship with your spouse and your kids.

How would you feel if your children believed you loved your work more than you loved them?


6 Rules for Good Managers

You are certainly familiar with the saying People don’t leave companies, they leave bad managers. 

Vacation time is vital for the employees’ physical and mental health as well as for work productivity and good managers should encourage them to take it.

Good managers:

  1. Don’t frown upon employees taking up vacation;
  2. Don’t make their employees feel shame or guilt around vacation;
  3. Are the first to set a good example and take their allotted vacation days;
  4. Never call or email their team members while on vacation;
  5. Assure him/her the team can handle anything that could come up while they are away;
  6. Expect their team members to disconnect, relax and focus on making amazing memories and get back to work feeling recharged.

I was inspired to write this article after reading a LinkedIn post by Brian Dresher, one of my 3rd-degree connections. At the time I had made a mental note to come back to Brian’s post and refer to it in my article. Unfortunately, I had failed to save the link to his post. I hadn’t liked his post either so it didn’t show in my LinkedIn activity. I searched for Brian’s post for three hours and I was beginning to come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to mention it in my article when I suddenly found it! Hooray! What a relief!

You can see why I was so adamant to show it to you:

8 Tips for Employees looking to have a relaxing and guilt-free vacation

Going on vacation is mandatory if you want to avoid a drop in productivity, increased levels of stress and fatigue.

But if you want to have a great time during your vacation you need peace of mind.


Here are 8 tips for employees looking to have a relaxing and guilt-free vacation:

  1. Communicate the time you will be out of the office to your prospects/customers;
  2. Don’t call your prospects/customers while on vacation!;
  3. Make sure you get done the important tasks in your final working week so you can enjoy your time at the pool sipping cocktails;
  4. Handover important tasks to your colleagues so you can relax knowing they’re being taken care of while you’re away;
  5. Stay off your smartphone, limit yourself to checking it only an hour a day;
  6. Make a rule of not checking your office emails and stick to it;
  7. Anticipate any needs your colleagues might have and prepare a word document or spreadsheet to answer them;
  8. Appoint one of your colleagues to handle your customers’ needs while you’re away.


2 Vacation Policy Recommendations for Organizations

Netflix, which disrupted the TV entertainment industry and made binge-watching a cultural phenomenon has a strong company culture. An important aspect of this culture is its unlimited vacation policy. This policy states that employees are free to intermix work and personal time at their own will and take time to go on vacation.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings sets a good example in this respect – he takes 6 weeks’ vacation. Why? Because “it helps you get back to work with fresh new ideas.”

Learn more: 8 Key Factors Behind Netflix’s Success Story

Like almost all tech startups in Silicon Valley, Buffer had an unlimited vacation policy for its employees as a company perk just like Netflix. What management at Buffer didn’t expect was employees barely taking any vacation at all.

They realized the main problem with unlimited vacation time was not knowing how many days off someone should take which prompted the company to go through a series of policy adjustments. The company went from unlimited vacation to offering its employees a $1000 bonus to go on vacation, a minimum vacation policy of 15 days off to a full-team Buffer is closed strategy.

Here are 2 recommendations regarding your organization’s vacation policy:

1. Have a vacation policy in writing

To have everyone on the same page, write down your vacation policy and communicate it across your company. The goal of having a written vacation policy is to lay down ground rules and be prepared to answer questions from your employees.

2. Avoid schedule conflicts

If you cannot have your company close for a limited amount of time – like Buffer – is not a solution, then stick to your employees scheduling their vacations which – more often than not – leads to schedule conflicts.

To avoid such unpleasant situations, you need a set of rules. You can go with first come, first approved rule or 3 employees at all times rule and provide them with an editable calendar so they can self-manage their vacation days to follow this rule.


1 rule for CEOs having a relaxing vacation – Empowered Employees

You are the CEO of your company. You worked hard to take your company off the ground and in the first years since launching your business, you took no vacation at all.

Now the company is powered by your employees and business operations run smoothly. It’s time for you to take the much-needed time off and go on vacation.

Having a great summer vacation is conditioned by one thing only: that you have been actively empowering your employees throughout the year.


Because empowered employees don’t need micromanaging, they are responsible and can be trusted to make the right decisions for the company. Empowered employees have stronger job performance and are more driven to take care of the needs of the customers they serve. When you empower your employees, they ensure the success of your business.

What steps does your organization take to encourage its employees to go on vacation?

What is the vacation policy of your company?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

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