Christmas is coming fast, and a week after that is New Year's Day. Should you close up your office for the week in between? Or stay open so workaholics and those with tight deadlines can get things done, and those with no family nearby have a place to go?
Not many questions in business have simple answers, but this one does. Unless there's some specific reason your business can't close Christmas week, it should. Here's why:
You'll improve productivity.
Say what? Does giving people a week off make them more productive? Yes, research shows. In surveys, people who take vacations are more efficient than those who don't.
And if there ever was an unproductive time of year, it's holiday time in most offices. Why force employees to sit around being unproductive and wishing they were home with their families? Both you and they will benefit more if they take their minds off work for seven days.
You'll have healthier employees.
Skipping vacations is seriously bad for your health, surveys show. On the other hand, vacations can cut the risk of heart disease by 50 percent for men and 30 percent for women--but only if those men and women take more than one vacation a year.
If you're a smart boss, you're already making sure every employee takes a vacation at least once a year. Closing your office Christmas week will automatically mean employees take a second week off, giving you and them that heart health boost.
Your customers and business partners won't be in their offices anyway.
If your company operated in a vacuum where your employees never have to interact with anyone but each other, staying open Christmas week might make sense. But your customers, your suppliers, outside consultants, investors, and pretty much anyone else you do business with is likely to be our of their offices anyhow. That will leave your employees with not much to do and make it impossible to be productive even if they try their best.
You'll save on overhead.
Closing your office Christmas week means you won't have to pay for lighting or much heat during the darkest and often coldest part of the year. And if you don't close, at least some of your employees will take vacation that week anyway. So you'd be heating and lighting a partially empty workplace.
Employees will get a week off that costs you only four days.
Even Ebenezer Scrooge gave Bob Cratchit the day off on Christmas Day, and of course you'll do that for your employees. Since Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, many employers are giving employees the following Monday off. So that's one day you'll likely be closed in any case. Any other time you would close the office for a week, you'd be giving up five workdays, but this time it's only four.
You'll be loved.
Giving people Christmas week off is a great perk, a great tool for employee engagement, and a great recruiting aid. Maybe that's why a third of companies already do it.
You'll be letting employees know it's OK to take time off.
Although Americans get less vacation time than employees in most Western countries, we still don't take all of the time off we have coming to us, and more than a third of us take no vacations at all.
I don't believe this happens because we dislike exploring new cities or spending time at the beach. I think many of us believe we're supposed to work extraordinarily hard and without many breaks if we want to achieve our career goals.
Therefore, what you do as boss can make a big difference. If employees never see you take a vacation, they'll think that's what's needed to get ahead. If they see you taking regular vacations, they'll know you can have a successful career but that there are times when you can and should leave it all behind.
By closing the office for the week, you'll let people know that you too are taking this time to rest and celebrate the holidays and focus on your loved ones rather than your job. Not only will you get a week off that you probably need, you'll be setting a valuable example for everyone who works for you.