On Small Business routinely reaches out to a panel of entrepreneurs for answers to some of the most pressing questions facing small business owners. The following responses are provided by members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC).
Q: How do you structure vacation time for your employees, and do you have any tips for business owners who are trying to figure out the right approach to time-off?
Manpreet Singh, founder/president of Seva Call in Potomac, Md.:
“Calculating sick days and vacation time is not a good use of my team’s mathematical ability. I’d rather they focus on other numbers: like our metrics and the all-mighty bottom line. So, we don’t monitor clock-in times or have vacation limits.
Instead, I trust my team to create a work/life balance that rejuvenates without compromising productivity or quality. It’s assumed that team members work hard and deserve any vacation time they need -- they’ve earned it. They’ll just make up the work — and for that I’ll probably never have to even ask.
So far, so good. My staff show up when they say they will and never abuse their ability to take time off. We’re all accountable to one another and no one wants to be dead weight.
Whether your staff is hourly or salaried, if you have high standards for quality work, then employees will do what it takes to meet that standard. That means working hard every day -- and, occasionally, taking whatever personal time to relax... so that they can work hard some more.
Entrepreneurship is about leading, not controlling. I have a team of responsible professionals, and that allows me to leave the babysitting to the nannies and focus on building my business. Trusting my team and being flexible has won their loyalty and dedication, and it shows in the quality of their work and the depth of their efforts.”
Sonia Nagar, CEO/co-founder of Pickie in New York, N.Y.:
“We have unlimited vacation time. So, as long as you’re getting your work done, you can take as much or as little vacation as you’d like. The policy is that you just need to clear it with one of the founders so we can manage work deadlines around it. Everyone on our team is an adult; they can manage their work and results around vacation.
Thus far, what we’ve found is that people are probably less likely to take vacations with this policy in place... though that also might be us pre-selecting who we work with. Our team (and generally, the type of person that wants work on a start-up) is usually highly self-motivated and wants to work.”
Zach Cutler, CEO/founder of Cutler Group in New York, N.Y.:
“When growing a start-up, it is crucial to have processes and structures to guide individuals and the company at-large. Not tracking time off can lead to many unpleasant scenarios, for both employers and employees.
Firstly, employers will lose productivity and may feel resentful if their staff is taking excessive time off yet there is no company policy guiding them otherwise. Secondly, employees may not take enough deserved time off, which can lead to frustration and a sense of overwork.
With these things in mind, my tech PR agency created a specific, deliberate policy for time off. We offer two weeks paid vacation and one week paid sick leave.
While many companies offer only two weeks combined, I believe that increased productivity comes not solely from increased hours behind a desk. Rather, motivation comes from having good morale and being treated well, which can both be obtained with perks such as a generous volume of time.”
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of promising young entrepreneurs.