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10 Tips to Prevent Vacation Downtime

How to Profit During Loss at Holiday Time

By Thomas F. O'Leary

Family on vacation

Vacation Downtime Occurs When Employees Vacation

Catherine Yeulet
Rain or shine, snow or fog, people normally take to the roads or the airways for travel in July, August, November and December, leaving most businesses routinely understaffed and experiencing vacation downtime. As business leaders, your reaction to this recurring reality can mean the difference between profit and loss each year. You need to optimize your effectiveness during your downsized holiday times.

Businesses today are faced with a growing consumer demand for 24-hour service. That said, we will begin with the assumption that we don't hang a 'gone fishin' sign outside our office during the heavy holiday periods. Survival in business today requires permanency in the marketplace. Namely, your operations must be available to clients, in one form or another, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Even on Christmas day, your customers should be thinking about you as they read the holiday greeting that you warmly sent to them.

Here are ten easy-to-implement tips to optimize your organization during the annual pilgrimage seasons to prevent vacation downtime.

Drop the Guilt Trip

No one should feel guilty about taking vacation time, and yet, sometimes, people feel as though their holiday time is an imposition to their company. Establishing a holiday-friendly environment will reduce stress levels and help to build trust in an organization. Ensure that there is a climate of encouragement where holidays are concerned.

It is important for people to get away and re-charge their batteries, and managers should be encouraged to show support for their team members' plans. With team support and encouragement, people will look forward to returning to the office after some time off.

Implement Effective Holiday Forecasting Tools

If you don’t already, it is essential to have a standard holiday forecasting tool that is visible to managers for resource planning. While flexibility is understood, forecasting is an essential ingredient for successful, pro-active resource planning. If people in your organization are lazy about completing forecast sheets in advance, be creative in your approach.

Create a forecast log that includes destination and activity, and offer a prize for the best, or most creative vacation plan. You might also request that the winner make a semi-official presentation about the trip for team members upon his return to work. This will build presentation skills and foster morale simultaneously.

Read more tips to avoid vacation downtime and increase productivity.


Thomas F. O'Leary, a native New Yorker, has lived and worked in the United States, Mexico, Italy, Macedonia (FYROM), and Ireland. Tom has enjoyed a myriad of business experiences, in both the public and private sectors. He has earned numerous honors. Tom was nominated as one of 12 Outstanding Airmen in the United States Air Force. He also received the Governor of Alabama's Outstanding Enlisted Representative honor, a Proclamation from the Governor of Massachusetts, a Joint Service Commendation Medal and a NATO Medal. Recently resigning from his position as Training Coordinator at Transware Plc, Tom is currently a consultant. His philosophy is simple: "Be Efficient With Things, Effective With People."

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