Ask for Time Off – And Get It!
It’s no secret that American workers don’t take enough time off. In fact, nearly half of the workforce takes ZERO time off from work. But why? After all, one of the key bargaining points when applying for a job or negotiating salary and benefits is the amount of paid vacation offered by an employer. So why aren’t we using it?
There are a number of reasons, but let me sum it up for you:
- We don’t want to come back and drown on the backlog.
- We don’t think anybody else is as good as we are.
- We think everybody else is better than we are.
- We have no money.
- We think that somehow the boss will notice we never leave, and reward us for it.
So how do you assuage your own fears, and get the time off you want (need, actually) without putting your position at risk?
1. Know your job.
If you’re going to be taking time off you can’t just abandon your post, so make sure that you plan your vacation time during slower periods of work. This ensures that you don’t come back to a towering stack of tasks in your “to-do” pile, and that the rest of your team won’t resent you for leaving them to do your job.
2. Know the rules.
Double (or triple) check your employee handbook to know how far in advance your employer requires you to ask for time off. Most companies insist on two weeks, minimum, but ask around the office and see how far out your co-workers request their time off, and see who gets approved. The best rule of thumb is to ask as far in advance as possible and WRITE IT DOWN. Put it on your Outlook or Google calendar and make sure your supervisors know it’s there (include them on the notification) so there’s no excuse for anybody not knowing when you’ll be gone.
3. Know who’s covering you.
Chances are, just because you’re out of the office doesn’t mean that the work just stops. Tasks need to be completed, clients need to be called, sales need to be made…so unless you’re a one-man army and you work for yourself, notify the rest of your team, as well as your supervisors, so they can plan accordingly for what to do in your absence.
4. Know that they can say “no.”
While the vast majority of employers have no problem approving vacation or PTO requests, there will be times when the stars just don’t align and your request will be denied. It’s certainly nothing personal, and while you have every right to take your earned vacation time, your employer has the right to say, “Not at this time.” So before you book nonrefundable tickets or put a deposit down on the cabin by the lake, make sure that your request is actually approved (this is why you want to plan well in advance—see rule #2 above).
Every job and every workplace is different, but these simple rules will serve you well 95% of the time, regardless of work or place. Remember, you’re a professional. If you treat your employers with courtesy and respect, they should have no reason to deny your request for time off.