Kevin Delaney has an interesting article in the WSJ this morning regarding Yahoo requiring it's employees to take off the week between Christmas and New Years. As mentioned in the article this has interesting timing considering their comments regarding a slow down in some online advertising verticals.
Yahoo management mentions this is "guilt-free time off."
While at Advertising.com I loved that week between Christmas and New Years. It was my catch-up week since fourth quarter was always extra busy for sales which in turn meant it was extra extra busy for operations. It allowed me to get ready and recharge for the onslaught of first quarter.
Personally I'm not a big fan of mandatory vacations. I'd much rather have people take vacation throughout the year. Vacation is a great way to help re-prioritize and empower your employees.
If you're a manager it forces your direct reports to step-up. It also allows you to reevaluate what you can delegate. Something you always do, something you used to cherish doing, now you don't. It might be something a direct really will be fired up to do, or improve on how you do it. Different perspective. Maybe you stop doing something that you realize nobody finds any value in?
If you're on the front lines it forces your peers to step-up. Is there a good coverage plan? Are your department's internal processes designed well to allow for redundancy? How much extra capacity is in your operations?
As a manager or front line employee you should strive to ensure every vacation is guilt-free. Managers make sure the machine doesn't stop and fail if you or a direct leaves. Employees if you see that the processes you have break when someone takes time off work with your managers to FIX those problems.