How to Take Time Off from Your Small Business, Part 2

This is Part 2 of the post, “How to Take Time Off from Your Small Business.”

Employee Vacation

As the owner of a small business, you are important in running day-to-day operations.  However, in many small companies, key employees are integral to running business operations and these employees are often considered indispensable.  How will you operate the company without them when they are on vacation?  Many of the considerations applying to owner vacations apply to employee vacations, as well.  For instance, strategically plan vacations for slow periods and delegate, delegate, delegate.  Additionally, here are a few extra thoughts regarding your employees, specifically:

  1. Utilize a written vacation policy. This one is important.  The company vacation policy should be memorialized in writing along with all the other company policies.  Be detailed.  Ambiguities can lead to misunderstandings and disputes.  Employees should be made well aware of vacation policies, and they should be expected to follow them.  As the owner/decision maker, it is also important for you to apply your vacation policy equally to everyone.  You can’t pick favorites when making decisions to grant or deny vacation requests, but you should consider workloads, off-season, and upcoming deadlines and events when making such decisions.
  2. Be specific about expectations before and during vacation. Your vacation policy shouldn’t end with how and when vacation time is granted.  Make sure employees understand their responsibilities when taking vacation.  For instance, does the employee delegate his or her own work, or will you delegate duties?  Do you expect employees to check email and voicemail while on vacation?  Should the employee set up call and email forwarding while they are gone, and if so, to whom should messages be forwarded?  Remember that your employees are not trying to leave you in a lurch when they go on vacation.  Some planning and plenty of communication among your team members will make the whole process run more smoothly.
  3. Talk about security concerns.  Portable electronics such as laptops and smartphones allow us to take work with us when we travel.  Unfortunately, this also means that we are often carrying around valuable electronic information, including client emails and other confidential materials.  It is very important to have security and confidentiality policies in place to protect your company’s information.  Employees must be reminded that these policies extend past the office door, and that company information needs to be carefully guarded, even on vacation.

The bottom line is that small businesses generally feel the impact of team-member vacations more than large businesses.  However, you can be proactive and provide policies and resources for your company so your business can successfully navigate vacation season and the inevitable difficulties associated with it.

The law is always changing.  We cannot guarantee that the information provided herein is current and accurate.  Every situation is different.  Do not refrain from seeking legal advice from a lawyer because of anything contained in this blog.  Consult an attorney for individual legal advice regarding your own situation.