The perks and pains of a small business are well-chronicled: the intimacy and camaraderie that comes with knowing your coworkers so well is often met with high-pressure demands and everyone wearing multiple hats to get the job done. When one member of the team isn’t at their best, the company as a whole suffers.
This presents an oft-ignored conundrum: the importance of taking time off. Vacation time is there so employees can attend major life events and holidays, but it also provides critical relief from the day-to-day stressors of the job, so employees can return refreshed, recharged and ready to get back to work.
For any company, but particularly a small business, an employee taking time off comes at a cost. When one employee is unavailable, it is felt, and the rest of the team has to pull together to get all the extra work done.
Still, the ends typically justify the means. It may be more challenging while the employee is out, but they return grateful for the time off and ready to jump back into the swing of things. As long as the vacations remain balanced across the team—and don’t consistently overlap or happen back-to-back, which results in overall team-wide fatigue (and occasional grumpiness)—the company as a whole benefits from rested, happy members.
Some vacation timing can’t be helped, but sometimes employees take their coworkers’ needs into consideration and use up their vacation time with individual days off peppered throughout the year; in spite of what many may think, this is often both more disruptive and less beneficial than taking a week off. One day isn’t usually enough time to turn off mentally (or at least switch gears) and reap the rewards from being away from the office, and it’s more likely that your work will just pile on your desk rather than be dealt with if your team only has to wait one day.
Of course, vacations should be thought out and not come at the cost of coworker sanity or project completion. But do put the thought into them, do take them, and do help when your coworkers do the same.