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4 Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Should Pay For Their Employees’ Vacations

4 Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Should Pay For Their Employees’ Vacations

Right now, you must thinking that the title for this article is ridiculous. Who deliberately gives their employees vacation time—and at the expense of the organization too? Heck, it’s bad enough they’re leaving work in the first place, what do we do to make up for the work they leave behind while they’re vacationing, right?

Well, that is what most bosses would think—especially those that would rather tie an employee to a chair than let them leave for an extensive vacation. Here’s the keyword: “extensive”. For some reason, we always attach words to certain things and form associations without considering other possibilities.

Who said a vacation has to be extensive?

I like the thought Alfred James expressed in his article called, ‘Why you should take a day off of work and not feel guilty about it’ (clearly, he’s not talking about an extensive vacation at all):

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“Companies don’t own us. Work doesn’t own us. It is important as free-thinking sentient beings that we don’t feel trapped and indebted to work all the time.”

Look at it this way: you don’t own your employees and your work doesn’t own them – or you for that matter. Big bad bosses who think otherwise will only foster a mindset that makes employees feel “trapped and indebted” to work.

This can eventually lead to low employee morale, less engagement, more illnesses/nervous breakdowns, unforeseen absenteeism, high employee turnover, employer-to-employee relationship issues and a host of other problems. Offering your employees an organization-funded vacation for even five-to-seven days should suffice—anything beyond that would be at their own expense

Here are four other reasons why employers should encourage and – *wince* – pay for their employee’s vacations:

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Better Physical Health

Okay, they won’t be coming back all buff and Captain American-ish, but it can’t be denied that vacation time does a lot to improve health. According to the New York Times, since stress can take a toll on your health, it’s crucial to take a vacation “just for your health’s sake”. A study conducted in 1948 and later published in 1992 called the Framingham Heart Study revealed that women who took a vacation once every six years or less were more likely to contract heart diseases. As Eaker, who carried out the study, said, there is “real evidence that vacations are important to your physical health.”

Higher Productivity

How can an employee be more productive when they return to work? By then, they have probably zoned out, with their thoughts still roaming more attractive concepts like the ocean and cocktails. But as Joe Robinson, a productivity trainer interviewed on the subject puts it, “Employees are taught to believe that bravado is the way to go – that more hours is better, but research shows the opposite.”

This also goes for employers who think productivity has a positive correlation with the number of hours worked. Research has shown otherwise. Put simply, the more work hours your employees put in, the more exhausted their minds and bodies become. Nonstop work not only increases fatigue but also stress— which is even more problematic.

According to the Oxford University survey mentioned in the same article, “75% of the managers who took time off reported feeling recharged and refreshed, and 41% said they felt “less stressed”.

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Increased Mental Power

While sleep does a lot to reset your mental energy, it can only be used in moderation on a daily basis. When levels of stress and fatigue surpass the amount of restorative ‘zzzzs’ you’ve managed to acquire, your body starts to function on ‘airplane mode’.

Agreed, yoga, exercise, and fun-filled weekends are all great ways to rejuvenate- but nothing beats the relaxation offered by vacations. According to UPMC, ranked among the top hospitals for neurosurgical care in U.S., the next time anyone wants to de-stress their brain, they should head to the sea. Marine biologist Wallace J. Nicholas states that the water triggers our “blue minds”: a state of “calm, peacefulness, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment.” In other words, a mental vacation for your employees means a restorative vacation for their brains as well.

Also, according to the U.S News, one of the many benefits of taking a vacation is improved mental health. As clinical psychologist Francine Lederer states, “”The impact that taking a vacation has on one’s mental health is profound. Most people have better life perspective and are more motivated to achieve their goals after a vacation, even if it is a 24-hour time-out”.

This leads us to the next point…

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Fresher Perspectives

Any good employer would want their employees to contribute to the organization in new ways through up-to-date knowledge. We may try the “adding to the talent pool” technique by hiring fresh employees with new ideas and perspectives. However, this can also be done with existing employees.

CNN reported how stepping back from work life can help you to gain insights, appreciate the current moment, and return to your life with a new sense of excitement. According to Adam Galinsky from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, “Detaching from a familiar environment can help you get new perspectives on everyday life.”

A simple example illustrates this point: when you discuss a problem with your friend, the friend is more likely to offer creative suggestions and useful advice you wouldn’t have otherwise thought of. This is because the friend has psychological distance from the problem at hand and is able to think more clearly about the problem than you, as you are all wrapped up in it.

Furthermore, travelling or vacationing abroad allows employees to connect with new environments and cultures, allowing them to learn new languages, and learn about cultural diversity, and tolerance. The mind-numbing routine back at home that often forces them to function in an unproductive machine-like mode can only be broken when that routine is reset with an entirely new location and situation.

Featured photo credit: Employee Retreat via flickr.com

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Published on March 20, 2019

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

What is a Mission Statement?

Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

“Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

“To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.

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Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

  • What we do?
  • How we do it?
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • What value are we bringing?

Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

After all, that did check off all the boxes:

What we do? Provide widgets.

How we do it? Online.

Who do we do it for? The consumer.

What value we bring? The best widgets.

The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

Compare that mission statement to this one:

“We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

What’s the difference?

Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.

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You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

1. Keep It Brief

Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

2. Have a Purpose

A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

3. Include a “How”

Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

7. Think Long Term

A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.

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8. Get Feedback

This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

Strategic Planning

A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

Measuring Performance

By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.

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Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

To Hold Management Accountable

By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

To Serve as an Example

This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

Final Thoughts

Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

More Resources About Achieving Business Success

Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
[2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

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