Preparing Staff for Your Absence

Staff Management when on VacationHave you been on the job for three weeks without a day off? You’re not alone. Americans are working longer hours and more days.

In fact, according to a 2013 Expedia survey, we’re only taking 10 of the 14 vacation days that are, on average, allotted to each of us.

Working this much is not good for us and we need to start taking more vacations, or even just days off. These, says Kathleen Hall, founder and CEO of The Stress Institute in Atlanta, Ga., “are not a luxury, but a necessity.”

Going away or just getting away from your job, brings about mental changes, she says, and these in turn allow you to be “more creative, to be reflexive.”

There are many advantages to getting away but how do you get your staff and venue ready for your absence? And how much do you keep in touch once you’re gone?

Jared Sadoian, beverage director for Craigie On Main and The Kirkland Tap & Trotter, two restaurants with bars in Cambridge and Sommerville, Mass., respectively, says his biggest concern is running out of product when he’s not there. So he goes through the inventory and makes sure sufficient product is ordered to last through his vacation and a few days beyond.

He also puts a senior bartender in charge for each shift he’ll be gone. “This person will handle the day-to-day tasks, making sure projects are completed and prep work gets done,” he says. “At the end of the night when I’m gone I'll get an email from them with any relevant updates and a list of things they need from me.”

Before leaving for a trip—typically two or three times a year for four or five days each—Tommy DeAlano, owner of candleroom and The Dram, two Dallas nightspots, spends a lot of time on payroll, which is one of his assigned tasks.

Usually two or three weeks before he leaves he goes through it with the delegate for that task. “We go through the whole process together,” he says.

It’s not just about preparing to leave but how you keep in touch while you’re out of town—if at all.

Arturo Gomez is president of Rockit Ranch Productions in Chicago, which owns five restaurants with bars and one nightclub. He makes sure he stays in touch while he’s away, but limits it so he can actually relax.

He typically checks in early in the day and at the end of the day “and that’s sufficient,” he says. “It’s primarily to make myself available in case someone wants something and to see how things are going.”

Confessing to a semi-addiction to technology, Sadoian typically checks in via email and text when he’s on the road. And though he managed to disconnect completely on his honeymoon last year, he did feel “some level of anxiety,” he says.

“I’m the type of person that prefers having information,” he says. He does admit he’s better able to think creatively when he gets away from work, and do some longer-range planning “because I’m not tied up in the minutiae of what’s happening at that moment.”

At the end of every business day, DeAlano and his partners send out an email to each other detailing sales information and comments—“anything bad, weird, funny or specific suggestions,” he says. Seeing this when he’s away allows him to get a quick snapshot of the business, he says.


Whether you end up taking one day or a week, it’s important to get away; however its equally important to make sure your staff is properly prepared to handle the necessary tasks while you’re gone.


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