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The slow economy forced many businesses to trim staff to bare-bones levels. Remaining employees wanted their usual end-of-summer vacation time and this left companies shorthanded. Two companies – Quality Buildings in Norman, Oklahoma, and David’s Soundview Catering in Stamford, Connecticut – handled the shortages through job shifting and overtime. The strategy worked but was not very effective. Many companies are turning to temporary agencies for help covering employee vacations.


M1. Could small companies, like the ones profiled in the article, suspend vacation while staffing is reduced? What about the practice of bringing in temporary workers to cover for vacationing employees? What are the relevant legal issues?

M2. If you were advising these companies, what is one way to help a lean staff be better prepared for short staffing associated with vacations?

M3. Consider what you read about vacation and work coverage at companies with lean staffing. What are the implications for work-life balance? Are there options with respect to work schedule flexibility that might help companies get the work done while allowing employees some time off?

SOURCE: J. Walker, “Summer Vacations Bring Strain to Trimmed Staffs,” Wall Street Journal (Retrievable online at

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