Implementing Vacation Time Enhances Business Operations

Restaurant owner gives evidence that the proof is in the pudding

by Fabrizio Cali

One crucial element of running a restaurant is valuing our employees’ work-life balance. At Dolce Vita, I have made the decision to close every Monday and for a week each summer to give my staff a day of rest as well as a true vacation. Many business owners may be concerned about how this will impact their bottom line, but, by fostering a healthy work environment, they will see the benefits of providing this incentive to their employees.

Regular Time Off Builds Healthy Business Structures

When employees devote their time to their company, burnout can happen. Dedicating time off and prioritizing rest and relaxation uplifts the team’s morale and can even boost productivity, as Caroline Castrillon discusses in an article for Forbes (“Why Taking Vacation Time Could Save Your Life;” May 23, 2021), citing a study by the World Health Organization. These elements create a happy, efficient business that benefits both staff and guests alike.

When providing time off, employers need to ensure it is either 1) uninterrupted time off or 2) a full closure. This establishes peace of mind for employees. Also, employers should establish some restrictions for reaching out to employees on their days off. If they are unable to fully relax, it can reduce or even eliminate the stress relief they need to come back refreshed to work.

Doing a full closure allows everyone to return to work at the same starting point in the week. Therefore, the entire staff will be rejuvenated, and employers get rid of the risk of having one group of disgruntled employees who had to work for the rest of the staff to receive time off.

How Restaurants Can Prioritize Work-Life Balance

For many restaurants, it is not possible to close for an entire day every week (although it is very recommended because it is a recharge day). But I believe it is a must for the restaurant owner to find a schedule that works for everyone.

Employers should talk to their employees. Who prefers working in the mornings? Who prefers to work at night? Who has kids at home that they need to pick up from school at a certain time? All of this should be considered when writing up the schedule. It’s important to regularly check in with the employees to see if their schedules have changed, so they know their employer cares about their work-life balance. Also for the well-being of the employees, it is important to keep the scheduling consistent so employees can plan their off-work time, and to provide the scheduling ahead of time so employees can organize their time.

Supporting One’s Workers Develops Community

When business owners and management personnel truly care about their staff, the time they set aside for the individual’s personal benefit returns to the restaurant tenfold and combats the typical stresses of a fast-paced, bustling environment. This is why it’s important to encourage staff to spend time with their families, take care of themselves and address their personal lives.

It helps employees thrive when they know their managers have their backs. They are more inspired to come to work every day with a smile and engage with people on a more genuine level. It transcends the break room; guests will recognize and appreciate an environment that is happy, ethical and inviting.

I believe it’s important that management gets to know more about their staff’s personal lives and how time off can impact on them. For example, I expanded to one full week off in the summer to provide a true vacation for my team. With many employees who have family in Italy, the full week off in addition to regular PTO makes room for necessary travel plans.

Providing ample time off is just one component in the bigger picture of supporting a restaurant staff. At all levels, the team needs to invest in making meaningful connections with one another. For our restaurant’s tight-knit community, we provide a personalized experience for every guest who comes in because we’ve fostered a team that is also a family.

Fabrizio Cali is the owner of Dolce Vita, an Italian restaurant, gelato shop and grocer in Mesa, Ariz. Cali was born in Sicily and spent most of his life in Milan before moving to the United States in 2011. He opened the restaurant three years ago, and prides himself on bringing traditional Sicilian food and culture to the Valley.


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