By Shu Saito, founder of All Filters | Every Filter for Every Need, Refrigerator, RV, Whole House, and More
The last vacation I took was seven years ago. A lot has happened since then: I had a child, opened a business, had another business take off, Covid-19 hit and more. Those seven years were productive, demanding and, for the most part, rewarding. I was content, so I didn’t think I needed to take a vacation. In fact, it didn’t cross my mind that I needed a vacation until my wife and son wanted to go on one. I am, by nature, a workaholic, so I was reluctant to leave everything behind and “lounge.”
But going on vacation turned out to be one of the best things not only for me and my family but also for my business. You may similarly be hesitant to step away from your company for a vacation. However, with a little preparation, you may be surprised to find that a vacation can lead your company toward increased productivity in unique ways, improve strategic planning and create a better overall business culture.
Vacations increase productivity, with a twist.
Yes, we’ve all read the research that a change of scenery broadens our perspective and boosts creativity. However, because I was already feeling very productive in my businesses, I thought this research didn’t apply to me. Seven years without a vacation didn’t seem to be hurting me at all! In fact, I was doing better than ever.
However, when my wife, my son and I finally took a vacation to Hawaii, I understood what the research was saying. It’s not productivity in manufacturing or profits; rather, it’s productivity in human spirit and creativity. A vacation can help you think out of the box, to remold or even completely recast “the box(es).” When you experience different perspectives, different cultures and different adventures, you’re more likely to move beyond thinking about how to just improve the bottom line of your company to how you can improve your soul, strengthen your connection with others and be a light. You’ll carry these core values with you as a CEO, which can help make your company more ethical, caring and community-oriented.
Vacations filter irrelevancies.
Taking a vacation not only improved my productivity on a nontangible level, but it also helped me on a practical level, too. Specifically, before I left on vacation, I needed to make sure all my business procedures and protocols were solid and could operate while I was gone. I was surprised that this quick review of my company’s machinations revealed some gaps in communication, emergency procedures and overall production.
To prepare your company for your vacation, try to hypothesize any potential issues that could go wrong and prepare your teams accordingly. Such preparations can reveal where you need to strengthen business communication channels, what emergency protocols are out of date and what type of inefficiencies are slowing you down. For example, before you leave might be a good time to streamline your point of sale and checkout processes. Make sure the process is smooth, bug-free and easy to navigate. Review other departments to see if there is a heavy load of manual work, too much documentation or bloated administrative work. Talk to your team to see where you can digitalize, eliminate or outsource.
Vacations let your teams show their independence.
While I am not a micromanager, I do like to be involved in most details of my business. Like most entrepreneurs, my business is one of the most important aspects of my life. It’s easy for me to make it the center of my world.
Going on vacation can help you remember that while your businesses are important, it’s ok to take a step back. Let your team take more responsibility and then watch them shine! To do this, make sure that before you leave, you talk to your employees in person and let them know that you trust them with running the business.
Don’t just email them a list of things to do. Double-check that they have the tools and permissions to do what they need to do while you’re gone. For example, if you delegate social media channels to someone, make sure they have the passwords and access they need to post what they need to. Establish or review protocols to manage emergencies so employees know what to do if something goes wrong. Your employees will probably love that you let them take the wheel and use their leadership abilities and talents to keep the business running. This trust can add new dimensions to your employer/employee relationship in exciting ways, including improved communication, greater trust and more efficient delegation and priorities.
Entrepreneurs and business owners are some of the hardest-working people I know. Because our livelihoods and our lives are so intertwined, it can be difficult to leave work behind. However, my recent trip has shown me that taking a vacation is not only essential to an entrepreneur’s survival, but it’s also crucial to employee productivity and success. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, long working hours kill 745,000 people every year. As a self-proclaimed workaholic, I’m here to tell you to take that vacation and help you prepare your company for your absence. Rent that RV or boat. Get the plane ticket. Hop in your car. You don’t need to go far to feel re-energized both personally and professionally. The world is an amazing place. Experience it, not just for your sake, but for the sake of your business as well.