December 2, 2014

More Thoughts On Why A Really Good Vacation Program Will Help Your Company

By Paul Bieber

Last week we discussed ‘Use-It-Or-Lose-It’. But why do companies give a vacation at all? After all, many companies do not, why should you? First, you will hire better employees with a better benefits package—a proven fact. And while health insurance is the prime target of benefit-seekers, vacation and other paid or unpaid time off is in second place. Next, you will retain better workers offering a good vacation plan. People stay where they are appreciated, and they won’t be scouring the job boards and the help-wanted ads for a better job.

And the most important reason? Your employees will work harder before and after a planned vacation. This has been proven in many studies. Before Bill leaves for vacation, he will want his work all cleaned up, and when Sally returns from vacation, she will tear into her work with a fresh attitude.

As much as possible, let your employee’s requested vacation schedule be implemented. Set a date in the beginning of each year, say January 15, when employees can request vacation dates. It is a first-come first-served at that point, with seniority in the department being the only qualifier if multiple folks ask for the same time off. Remind your crew in December about the ‘request date’ for vacation time, and again just after New Year so they can plan. Sure, many people won’t be able to plan that early, but the ones who do will really appreciate your program and will not be job searching!

Another new trend making its way down to small and medium sized companies is vacation sharing. When there is a medical or family emergency, employees may donate up to half of their vacation allotment to another employee in need. Don’t get into the value of each employee’s days. If a higher-paid employee donates two days to a lower-paid employee, the company comes out ahead, and conversely you come out a little behind going in the other direction. It is more likely that the higher-paid employee, with longer tenure and more vacation time, will donate to the lower-paid employee. This creates a strong family feeling when one employee looks out for another. Make sure your personnel department, or you, approve each time a vacation day is transferred. Make it clear this is to only be used in rare cases, usually associated with health or bereavement within a family.

What about your part-timers? Most American companies do not give part-timers a vacation. I strongly urge you to go ahead and give your part-timers a vacation if they work twelve hours a week or more. They will feel more a part of the company. We had a half-dozen part-timers working for our fabrication company, and we treated them just like everyone else, and most of them were with us for 10 years or more because they felt we did value their work.

Next week we’ll talk about wrapping vacation, sick time, holidays and other time off into one complete package, which gives employees greater choices and really will help you manage your business better.