Many leaders love the work they do, and don’t feel a need to take a vacation or time off in order to “get away.” There’s nothing for them to get away from! In fact, a new Harvard study shows that  “CEOs worked 70 percent of vacation days with an average of 2.4 hours on those days.” While it’s wonderful to be passionate about your work, it’s also important to fully take a break in order to recharge. Additionally, vacation is not just about you; taking time off will help your employees step up as well as create a culture of wellness in your organization. Read on for three reasons to start planning your summer vacation right now.

You Will Gain Clarity

If you are always working with your nose to the grindstone, you never have the chance to look up and gain perspective. This leads to a narrow view and could cause you to miss out on big opportunities because your brain is on a single track. I believe you need to create space in order to have space to create, meaning you aren’t able to give your best, creative input until your mind can relax from the constant busyness of your business. Tony Gauda, CEO of threat security firm ThinAir, adds, “When I come back from vacation, I’m fresher, productive and more efficient.”

Gauda also acknowledges that it can be difficult for leaders to step away. “The way I convince myself to take a break, and how I’d advise others to do the same, is reminding yourself that rest is a performance enhancement, not an inhibitor,” Gauda shares. Taking vacations prevents burnout, physically, mentally and emotionally. Being away from your business will give you time to miss it and rekindle the passion that caused you to start the business in the first place. When you return home, you’ll be full of excitement and new ideas.

Your Team Will Step Up

There’s nothing like being away to show all the gaps you were filling. When you are no longer there to save the day (or anticipate and fix things before the day needs saving) there will inevitably be balls that drop. This is actually a good thing. Seeing the gaps in roles and coverage will make the company stronger and create better coverage for the future. Once you return, take a look at the tasks you effectively delegated before your departure. Can any of them be permanently delegated? Often they can, and it takes us being away to fully trust this. Delegate as much as you can and use the extra time for strategic thinking and partnerships.

Taking time away also allows your team to step up. “Experience is the best teacher, so when team members face a perplexing, anxiety-inducing dilemma, they are going to think, work, strategize, and solve that problem. They’re going to learn how to function without the constant presence of their [leader]. That’s good for them and you,” says Neil Patel, cofounder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, and KISSmetrics. Seeing who takes initiative and rises while you are away is also useful come promotion time. Make sure to check in with a manager or another leadership team member upon your return to learn who performed well (and didn’t).

You Will Emphasize a Culture of Wellness

Time away from the office can benefit all employees, and that example starts at the top. If employees see leadership never taking a day off and working nights and weekends, they will assume they need to as well. It starts with you and leading by example will help confirm to your employees that vacations are encouraged. In the constant talent war, benefits like time off (and a culture that encourages that) go a long way in recruiting and retaining employees.

Aron Ain, CEO of workforce software Kronos, went so far as to implement an unlimited vacation policy in his company. The results were astounding. “In the first year of the policy, employees took 2.6 more days off on average than the prior year. From a financial standpoint, it was our best year ever. I don’t think that’s a coincidence,” Ain shares. Employee engagement scores improved as well. Showing that your company values time off will also make employees more motivated and productive; knowing they have the ability to take vacation will encourage them to get their work done. Giving and encouraging vacation time helps retain employees as well as create a culture that values wellness, happiness and productivity.

In a world where we are online 24/7 and constantly accessible to work, the need for time off cannot be over-estimated. As the head of your company, it’s your responsibility to be the best leader you can be. This includes taking vacation. Not only will you gain mental clarity and come home with new ideas, you will also highlight the gaps you are filling that need to be accounted for. Additionally, you might even find that things you delegated for your time away can be permanently delegated – freeing you up to lead. Most importantly, taking time away shows all other employees it’s okay to do so and that the company values it. A culture of wellness leads to increased engagement and less turnover. This summer, do yourself and your company a favor by taking some well-deserved time off.


  • Sue Hawkes

    CEO, Speaker, Best-Selling Author and Entrepreneur

    Sue Hawkes helps CEOs and their leadership teams succeed. As a bestselling author, keynote speaker, Certified EOS Implementer, Certified Business Coach, WPO Chapter Chair, and globally recognized, award-winning seminar leader, Sue brings over twenty-five years of experience to her clients. She is CEO of YESS! and has designed and delivered dynamic, transformational programs for thousands of people. Sue has received numerous awards including the Dream Keeper award recognized by the Governor’s Council for her leadership program, the Regional U.S. Small Business Administration Women in Business Champion of the Year award, the Exemplary Woman of the Community award, WomenVenture’s Unsung Hero award, Women Who Lead from Minnesota Business Magazine, NAWBO Minnesota’s Achieve! Vision Award and named a 2018 Enterprising Woman of the Year. Her most recent book, "Chasing Perfection- Shatter the Illusion; Minimize Self-Doubt & Maximize Success," is available now.