This article originally published on April 9, 2015.
Giving yourself permission to walk away from your company can be difficult. But if you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your staff: When you take vacation time, you’re setting a good example.
“The problem is that we don’t see executives take time off. The indirect message [to employees] is that they shouldn’t take time off either,” says Sara Canaday, an Austin-based leadership consultant and author of You—According to Them: Uncovering the Blind Spots That Impact Your Reputation and Your Career.
One employee of a small company (who asked not to be named) describes working for a boss who didn’t like to travel and never took more than a long weekend off. “She really thought that it was outrageous for us to want a week—or more, God forbid!—at a go,” she says.
Demonstrating to your staff that there is life outside of work can be a major morale booster that adds significant value to your company. So book that getaway—but before you do, give a thought to the employees who will be holding down the fort while you’re gone, and who may not have the resources for the kinds of escapes you’re able to afford. What kind of message are you giving them as you walk out the door?
“A boss who’s taking that dream vacation may be thinking it’s something that others should aspire to,” Canaday says. “But where the buck stops is that you don’t want to flaunt it. People don’t need to know the details.”
If you’re generally a thoughtful and respectful leader, your staff is likely to cut you slack if you return to the office bubbling with stories about your perfect holiday. “If you’re not normally boastful, then people are going to be much more inclined to say, ‘Wow, he or she just really wants to share,’ rather than think you’re rubbing it in their faces,” says Melody Wilding, a New York City-based therapist who focuses on workplace issues.
And if you honor the lives employees lead outside the office (for example, by refraining from emailing or phoning them during off hours), they will be equally supportive of your taking time for yourself.
Schedule your time off far enough in advance for your staff to take necessary action to prevent bottlenecks while you’re gone. Let them know under what circumstances they should contact you. And when you get back, meet with key members of your team to let them catch you up on where things are, rather than sashaying back in and immediately wresting control back from whoever had it in your absence.
Of course, if you are walking out the door without a thought about how your staff manages without you, you might be wise
to use this time for some serious soul searching.
“You’ve checked out emotionally and mentally,” Wilding says, “and it’s time to reevaluate what you’re doing, at the very least.”
More wheels up
Lower oil prices should help grease the wheels of U.S. business travel this year. According to a report from the Global Business Travel Association, air travel prices are expected to decline 0.9 percent in 2015—a nice change from the 4 percent increase projected at the end of 2014.
The boost in discretionary income from the decline in gas prices should help drive total spending on U.S. business travel in 2015 up 6.2 percent to a record $310.2 billion—a positive domestic note in the midst of a weak economic outlook for Europe and Asia.