Business Monday

How CEOs — and their employees — take vacation

Dr. Alejandro Badia is an orthopedic surgeon who leads a network of orthopedic urgent care centers called OrthoNOW based in Doral. The company has locations in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
Dr. Alejandro Badia is an orthopedic surgeon who leads a network of orthopedic urgent care centers called OrthoNOW based in Doral. The company has locations in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

This week’s question: Do your employees prefer taking more frequent, shorter vacations or less frequent, longer ones? What do you think is better for office morale and productivity? What kind of vacations do you take?

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I try not to interfere with my employees’ preference for vacation time, which is very important to create and maintain a healthy, work-life balance. I personally prefer more frequent short vacations rather than the European style one month off. The shorter vacations allow me to recharge following technically difficult surgeries and longer breaks would hurt my practice as my patients would suffer by not having needed access. Innovations in telemedicine — which we are integrating into our orthopedic urgent care centers and my own hand surgery practice — will impact vacation length in the future as I could still consult with patients while away. Living in Miami, I tend to prefer vacations that include exploring and learning about new cultures in exotic locations rather than sun and beach vacations.

Alejandro Badia, orthopedic surgeon and founder, OrthoNOW

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Our employees do both. It is important to give people options to take the type of vacations that are most productive and enjoyable for them. This mix also allows for us to ensure that there is always the appropriate coverage available to provide our clients with the seamless quality of service they expect from Greenberg Traurig. I often find it hard to take off for long periods of time, so I tend to use shorter vacations as a way to rest and recharge by spending time with my family and friends.

Hilarie Bass, co-president, Greenberg Traurig

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Many of our team members take a full two weeks or longer so they can travel abroad to visit friends and family. We try to allow flexibility for time off so we can keep our employees happy and motivated to return to work ready to take great care of our guests. As a general manager of a boutique hotel, it is difficult for me to be away for more than a week due to the responsibilities of the business. It can be done with some planning, but generally I am not away for more than 10 days at a time, including weekends. Today’s technology allows me to stay connected to the business, even on vacation, should an emergency arise.

Peggy Benua, general manager, Dream South Beach

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With more than 1,000 faculty, staff and administrators throughout Florida, I cannot comment on their preferences. We offer a robust PTO (paid time off) accrual plan that is job specific and based upon years of service, and a great holiday schedule — benefits for which Barry consistently receives positive feedback from our employees. I want our employees to use their allotted PTO days. They deserve and need to be refreshed. Among the many documented benefits that accrue from time away from one’s work space and work life is a new flow of creative juices on which we rely and welcome. As for me, I try to heed my physician-dad’s advice from years ago — ‘Your body needs a minimum of 10 days to know it is not at work to experience any health benefit, so if you can only take one week, wrap it between two weekends and get 10 days.’ During the course of a year, I try (do not always succeed) to take two consecutive weeks. Periodically, I take a Friday and/or a Monday as PTO. A change of scenery, preferably on the ocean, fasting from emails and texts, and not attending meetings, does wonders for me. No matter the length of my absence, I’m always glad to return to the office and my colleagues.

Sister Linda Bevilacqua, president, Barry University

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We take shorter, more frequent vacations. Since we are a small office managing an army of volunteers, long vacations have to be planned carefully to not impact our response time, our events, or our project.

Meg Daly, president and CEO, Friends of The Underline

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My employee’s vacation time is dictated by our Personnel Policies & Codes. The frequency is determined by the amount of accrued time a given employee might have. Office morale is not influenced by the frequency/length of the vacation time, but rather who is doing what and when, while that person is on vacation. I vacate every Saturday night to Monday morning of every week — no work emotionally or physically. I take a vacation from the physical environment in its entirety, once a year, for about seven days. During this time, I do whatever I want to do, when I want to do it, and as long as I want to do it. And most of the time, it is nothing.

T. Willard Fair, president and CEO, Urban League of Greater Miami

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In my business, we are required to take two consecutive weeks of vacation. This is very good for employee well-being and morale. During this time, employees cannot respond to emails or be part of any other bank business. Everyone comes back relaxed and with renewed energy. Shorter vacations do not have the same type of effect. My husband and I love to travel to big cities, exotic places and enjoy nature. We love it all.

Vicky Garrigo, market head, U.S. Southeastern Region Private Banking, HSBC Bank

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I really encourage my employees to take vacations where they can find a mixture of relaxation and enriching experiences. Booksellers tend to want to explore as much as they can, and when they’re able, they’d prefer longer, more productive vacations. We also try to give our employees opportunities to go to educational seminars outside of Miami, which while technically not a vacation, does give them an opportunity to experience professional development with some downtime exploration. My vacations tend to fall into this category. I just came back from the Sun Valley Writers Festival, at their invitation, to observe what they do, particularly in light of my involvement with The Miami Book Fair. The last two pure vacations I took were on Fathom’s cruise to various Cuba ports and two weeks exploring the mountains of New York State last summer. Leaving the summer heat of Miami behind has been something I’ve found attractive from the time I was a young boy growing up on Miami Beach.

Mitch Kaplan, founder, Books & Books

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It depends on the individual’s preferences and the types of vacations they prefer to take. Some of our team members like to take a longer vacation, while others prefer to take shorter vacations and visit different places. It’s incredibly important to take your vacation time to re-charge and enjoy a break. You can have a happier, more productive and fulfilling life, if you take time off every year and enjoy meaningful experiences. When I’m on vacation, I like to travel with my wife and children. We are a very active family and enjoy outdoor activities like trail hiking, running and paddle boarding on the river in our home on the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. For our family, vacations are all about sharing new adventurous experiences together.

Alan Kleber, managing director, JLL (Jones Lang LaSalle)

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I take very few vacations as I travel frequently for business and prefer to spend my free time in Miami. At Brickell Motors, I have found that vacations vary from employee to employee. Those with children tend to take less frequent, but longer “family” vacations. Older employees often prefer to add a day to a long weekend and do that more frequently. Sometimes the stress of planning and traveling for vacation can actually be draining, but we give our employees the freedom to choose what works best for them.

Mario Murgado, president and CEO, Brickell Motors

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It appears that most of our employees take a longer annual vacation, with a few shorter breaks throughout the year. As the restaurant industry is physically and mentally demanding, our most productive and happy employees are those that are well-rested and balancing work and life. Speaking for myself, as a small business owner it can be difficult to make time for vacation, and I probably do not take enough time off. However, when I do, I make a point to return to work well-rested, and more productive.

Steve Perricone, president and owner, Perricone’s Restaurant

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At least one long vacation each year is important and increases productivity. Of course, each individual should have the flexibility to adjust to their particular needs. Using vacation days to augment holidays is a smart way to enhance the overall length of a break. With children, it also coincides with school holidays. My favorite vacation is to be off grid in nature camping without electronics. It is the ultimate luxury.

Craig Robins, president and CEO, Dacra

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Since we live in Miami, my colleagues and I have many options for staycations. These are great for shorter getaways. However, to truly broaden your horizons, I believe everyone should take a unique longer vacation with loved ones if practical. I’m a firm believer that disconnecting your mind from work 3-4 times a year is not only healthy, but also leads to greater productivity and clarity of thought.

David Samson, president, Miami Marlins

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At FPL, our employees take both short and longer vacations. We understand that it’s a personal decision based on what’s going on at the office balanced with the employee’s personal needs and desires, as well as those of their family. Both options can be successful; it’s important that the employee and his or her work-group have planned ahead to ensure critical work functions are covered so that the employee can truly enjoy his or her vacation while ensuring office morale and productivity does not suffer. While I take occasional personal days throughout the year, I also typically plan one or two longer vacations with my family. Of course, we’re in a 24/7 business, so I really can’t remember a day when between email, text or phone I wasn’t in touch with someone at FPL.

Eric Silagy, president and CEO, Florida Power & Light

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I like to give colleagues the maximum amount of flexibility to schedule their own lives, both in terms of vacation time and in their daily work schedule. I firmly believe that, if people are passionate about our work and if they feel as though they have a genuine stake in our mission — as I hope that everyone who works with Miami Waterkeeper does — they would not take advantage of this flexibility. We, therefore, don’t have strict vacation day limits. I think this encourages folks to develop their best judgment, supports my strong belief in personal responsibility, and allows people to find a schedule that works for them and their families. So far, I’ve been very pleasantly surprised with the results.

Rachel Silverstein, executive director, Miami Waterkeeper

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