Vacation: Good for You, Good for Business

By Michael Ott, VP – R&D, Global Cleaning Division & International

“I can’t afford to take vacation; there’s too much going on!”

Newsflash: There will always be too much going on. So stop with the excuses already and get out of town.

Three generations of Otts at the Point Reyes National Seashore in California.

The case for vacation

Everyone needs vacation/ rest and relaxation/ time with family/ time to recharge and reenergize/ play time. 

Whatever you call it, it’s essential to separate from work. It’s important to realize you have an identity and interests — even relationships — outside of work. It’s good to remember that you can survive without your phone — and might even find it freeing.

It takes time to see the benefits of vacation, though. You need more than a long weekend. Take a week. Take two weeks. 

“No way,” you say? I say yes! And when I say vacation, I mean no answering work emails or attending meetings remotely. I mean go cold turkey. 

This is great for you and for your family. Bring on the real discussions and deeper laughter. Enjoy noticing new details about your partner or kids.  

But here’s the kicker: Taking a proper vacation is also good for your business endeavors. 

Bring your vacation home with you

Give yourself some real time away from work, and you can see your business challenges and opportunities in a different light. 

Walking through an unknown town, you may stumble across niche products you’ve never seen before or notice different product messaging. Maybe you observe something new about how people interact. Perhaps you see trends and patterns that have been right in front of you all along. 

You’re not skeptical; you’re open. Open to family fun. Open to long meals. Open to trying something new. Open to new ideas. 

Trust me, I’ve seen if first hand.

Team members have vacationed to Italy, and the unique designs they spotted there inspired us to engage with new packaging suppliers. They also helped inspire us to delve into experiential scents with our Clorox® Scentiva™ line (Tuscan Lavender and Jasmine, anyone?)

Other vacations to South America have inspired lower-cost packaging ideas and more focus on Hispanic households.

Asian trips have opened our eyes to unique shelving and bundling configurations, as well as new cleaning claims. 

Speaking of claims, some of the best  advertising can be seen on the Jersey Shore boardwalk — those people know how to get your attention!

Absence makes the team grow bolder

Step away from the day-to-day for a bit and your team will thank you for it.

When you unplug, you empower your organization. People need to step up. More importantly, they know you trust them to run things in your absence. 

At first, it’s really tough: “Can they possibly manage without me?” 

Another newsflash: For a week or two, they can. And while they’re managing without you, they will learn new skills, discover new strengths and arguably learn more in that short period than they will all year. Oftentimes, people’s behavior when I’m out on vacation helps validate a future promotion: They’ve been battle-tested and shown they can handle themselves in the next job.

If you still feel you can’t stay away for a week or two, you may be the problem — not your team. It takes a strong and secure leader to trust their team to carry on without them. 

Organizations are ecosystems that need to be stretched and challenged. Vacation is a perfect time to encourage that growth. 

Before you go, be clear about your expectations. Be clear about who has decision-making authority and what the pressing issues of the day may be. And then take a leap of faith — and a well-deserved break. Your organization won’t disappoint you. In fact, a real vacation will show you how great your team really is. 

Be the bold leader who models positive vacation culture by trusting in yourself and your team. 

These opinions are Michael Ott’s, but The Clorox Company culture encourages employees to use and enjoy all their annual paid time off. We also allow employees to purchase three extra vacation days each year.

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