Categorized | Workplace

How to Take Time off Without Affecting Workplace

Posted on 19 December 2008

After slaving for weeks over a marketing report, you’re dying to take a week off. But you know that your department head will not look fondly on your time-off request. What do you do?

Americans are working longer and harder than ever but seem to be taking less time off. According to a study by CCH Incorporated of 150 human resources executives (who represent an estimated 899,425 employees), 41 percent of their personnel are taking little or no time off. Further, when they do take time off it is usually taken as unscheduled and unplanned leave.

No wonder employers are suspicious of those who frequently take time off-most don’t prepare their supervisors or departments in advance of their departure. The result is an overtaxed system with overworked employees. However, you’ll pay the price for not taking any leave by being overstressed and less productive than those that exercise their right to vacation. Here are some steps to ensure that you get your vacation time without getting docked around the office.

Approach a manager in person to request the time off, even if the situation is allowed under company policy.

Greasing The Wheels
The goal is to get time off without making enemies in the process. Anne Chamberlain of Buck Consultants, a top U.S. human resources consulting firm, emphasizes the importance of planning and preparation. Chamberlain helped us compiled the following checklist to review before your departure date:

  • Make sure you have time banked. Many companies don’t just hand you your lump sum of time off at the beginning of the year, you accrue it with each month/day worked. See how much time you have banked for vacation.
  • Find out about company procedure. It’s your job to find out how your company outlines its time-off policy. Your vacation time should be detailed to you in the company handbook. Also, ask your supervisor and/or human resources rep about company policies to make sure you’re clear on procedures and protocols.
  • Ask in advance. Way in advance. Typically, one to two months before your desired departure date is best. The more time you give your supervisor to plan for your leave, the more likely they will grant it.
  • Use a little forethought and flexibility when planning. Chamberlain suggests requesting the time off even if you already have the time available, “It’s a good idea to approach a manager in person to request the time off, even if the situation is allowed under company policy.” This will work to your advantage twofold: it’s a less-confrontational way to get your vacation time by letting your boss know that you’re asking instead of telling them of your plans. Second, you’re giving them ample time for pre-vacation planning. Chamberlain also suggests coming to your supervisor with flexible start and return dates.
  • Understand resistance. If your supervisor is hesitant to grant you your vacation time, Chamberlain suggests finding out why. Is the department workload especially heavy this quarter? Have you been absent more than an acceptable amount lately? Has your work been up to par? Analyze (and be honest with yourself) all of these angles before broaching the topic with your boss. If you’re an accountant looking to leave during tax season, perhaps you should review what is reasonable and what isn’t.
  • Manage your responsibilities before, during, and after your trip. Once you get the green light for your vacation, consider your work obligations, and don’t let your mind wander to palm trees yet. If it is a crunch time at the office, offer to check in with a frequency that satisfies your supervisor. Also, look into how your time off will affect your peers and customers and do whatever work is necessary in advance to alleviate stress your absence may cause. Chamberlain suggests that “answers to these questions will help make a case for time off with a manager. The more flexible you can be on these issues, the better off you are.”
  • Be smart. Don’t plan your vacation on company time, and don’t sit around for days discussing the beach that awaits you. You will only annoy your co-workers. Use discretion when planning and conceal your excitement.

Post-Vacation Tip Sheet
So your wish was granted and now you’ve returned with a euphoric, post-vacation glow. Thank your supervisor-as well as those that helped you while you were away-for your time off. You may spend your first half-hour back from vacation waxing about the depth of the sunsets on foreign soil, but better to keep your tales to a minimum. Your boss is watching how you executed your vacation and how quickly you bounce back into the swing of things. Do it swiftly so as not to hinder your future furloughs. Happy trails.

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