Will employee vacations hurt your business this summer?

American workers are notoriously bad about taking vacations, and it's a habit that employers should encourage them to kick. Taking extended breaks from the job can help workers recharge, refresh, and avoid falling victim to burnout. It's therefore encouraging to see that U.S. employees expect to take 10 days off from work, on average, between June and August this year, according to staffing firm Robert Half.

Or is it?

While getting away can actually help workers better focus on the job and improve their productivity, problems can arise when too many workers are absent at once. Such is the problem many U.S. business owners will no doubt face this summer, since 58% of employees intentionally save up vacation time for June, July, and August. If you're worried about being short-staffed in the coming weeks, here's how to cope.

1. Insist on advanced notice

It's one thing for workers to want time off, but it's another thing to spring those requests on you at the last minute, especially during periods when it's common for employees to be out of the office. While there's nothing wrong with being flexible as far as vacation notice goes, summertime is when you may need to crack down and insist on advanced warnings to the tune of one month or longer. This way, you'll be able to plan accordingly for all of those absences.

2. Implement a backup system

Chances are, many of your employees have unique roles, with responsibilities that no one else in the company is currently doing. That's a good thing in theory because it means you're not paying multiple people to do the same thing needlessly, but it can be problematic when you have a lot of employees out of the office at once.

The solution? Invest in some training so that people in different areas of the business can back one another up as needed. This way, you don't have to worry about gaps when key players take time off. Just as importantly, having a companywide backup plan will help ensure that workers aren't forced to constantly check in during vacation, since that effectively defeats the purpose of getting away.

3. Rely on temps

The problem with hiring temporary workers is that you'll often sink time into training them. But if you expect a large number of employee absences over the summer, falling back on temps is a good way to ease the burden on everyone else. Furthermore, if you find a few good temporary workers who are willing to learn different parts of the business, you'll have people to rely on all summer long. And you may get the option to bring those temps back in during busier periods -- say, during the holidays or whenever your business experiences its upticks.


As a business owner, you should encourage your workers to take breaks from being in the office. At the same time, prepare for the possibility that you'll have a lot of folks missing this summer. A little advanced planning could save you a world of stress.

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