Most small business operators are all too familiar with fielding phone calls at all hours of the day and night, but one manager has employed some vivid imagery to discourage his workers from contacting him while on holiday.
In a post on Reddit, a worker shared their boss’s impassioned plea to not be contacted while on a well-earned break, reports news.com.au.
“Picture this scene,” the manager writes.
“Me standing on the balcony overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, the sugar sand beaches, cup of coffee in my hand and the sun on my face. My wife lounges in a patio chair leisurely reading a book. Then, imagine my cell phone ringing and the blind range that follows.”
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The note points out staff should: “Think once. Don’t call me. Think twice. Don’t call me”, with the manager reminding workers that staff members Tracy and Don are in charge if there are any issues.
The post has garnered hundreds of comments from writers fighting over whether business owners should ever completely switch off while on holiday, but if reports about Australian business owners are any indication, many never get time to go on holiday in the first place.
As a series of interviews with 500 Australian SMEs by Prosperity Advisors Group indicates, a big chunk of small business owners feel they are so integral to the operation of their business that they can never take time away from it.
A majority of those surveyed said they never take holidays, while 30% said their businesses simply can’t run unless they are there.
These findings are also linked to how much time business owners have to do things they enjoy. Nine out of 10 said they like running their companies, but only seven out of 10 report they ever get time to do things that they enjoy.
Overall, stress and lifestyle factors were among the top three worries reported by the business owners, with many saying they don’t really have the option to ask for help.
Only one third of those surveyed reported having a “trusted advisor” to workshop issues with their business, and around 70% of those that reported having an advisor said what that person offered didn’t really match up to the help or skills they needed.
Small business owners have also told SmartCompany in recent weeks that ensuring they have time outside of work to focus on the rest of their lives is a key priority for 2017.
“I’m so consumed with work all the time that I’m actually trying to create some positive family time this year,” says Podpac founder Toby Strong said last week.
Dyson Bikes co-founder David Metzke told SmartCompany that while he’s devoted all hours to the business over the past few years, he’s committed to blocking out time for family in the year ahead.
“In the last three years I have taken calls at all hours, on Sundays, on holiday—you name it—to answer questions and help customers looking at purchasing a new bike or answering a query from an existing owner. I don’t regret doing it, but in the long run I know this won’t be good for my health and would be nice to see my kids growing up!” he said.
Megan Faraday-Bensley, director of business services and taxation at Prosperity Advisers, says that while many small businesses are concerned about stress management and finding time out, these things can be included in their overall business plan from the start.
“Life is busy and we all know that because of a lot driven by technological change and the speed and access to us all as individuals, it requires structure and deliberate decisions if you’re to take control of work life balance,” she says.
“What we find is people need to be deliberate and have a plan and to work on the business. That includes making decisions to take time out.”
Those that do have a plan from the outset seem to have a better chance to grow their business in the long run, Faraday-Bensley tells SmartCompany.
“We certainly find that with clients who engage on us on regular board of advice sessions, you see them working on these parts of the business [plan] with us, and they are certainly are most successful,” she says.