Take Vacation – Or You’re Fired!

vacations_and_worker_productivity

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time imagining a boss or employer ever threatening me to “take vacation or else”. But having just come off a 10-day family vacation, I think businesses – and bosses – would be well advised to make vacation “mandatory” for all employees.

CNN reported that a survey conducted by Expedia showed more that only 38 percent of Americans use all their vacation days. Why not? It’s not because people don’t have the money to go on vacation. According to the survey, Americans don’t use their vacation days for fear of losing their jobs.

We’ve all heard and read the many benefits associated with taking vacations. Benefits to health, worker productivity and so forth. But I discovered three other benefits that I think are worth noting. Things that benefit the employee, as well as the business or employer. I call them the three P’s.

  1. Perspective: If you don’t appreciate the power of perspective, try getting out of the office for a week or two to see how much differently you view your job, your co-workers, and even the every-day challenges you face at work. Getting away from the office not only gives your brain a little break, but it also forces you to expose yourself to new things.
  2. Patience: It took about three days, but by day four of my vacation I could actually feel my blood pressure lowering. When you don’t have meetings to go to or looming deadlines, time seems to take on a new meaning. I just felt more patient. The benefit of this, for me at least, is that I feel more observant of the things around me. The people. The conversations I have. The emails I read.
  3. Passion: As my previous posts have probably shown, I’m pretty passionate about the work we do here at TrackVia. In fact, I simply couldn’t imagine being any more passionate about my work. But as I return to the office, fully recharged and energized, I find myself even more charged up to tackle the day-to-day obstacles of working at a fast-growing company.

Of course, what management “thinks” and what front-line business people “know,” are often very different, which is why we encourage our customers to build their own applications or online databases versus relying on what management or IT provides. So despite all the evidence and my own personal list of benefits for taking time away, don’t hold your breadth waiting for your boss or employer to make vacations mandatory anytime soon. It’s ultimately up to YOU to make vacations a priority in both your personal and professional lives.

So how do you do that exactly? Well, here’s a list of tips for asking the boss for vacation. These were collected from a variety of sources.

  • Ask in Advance: This is a pretty simple and obvious suggestion. But asking for time off weeks – if not months – in advance just makes sense.  In addition to helping everyone plan for your absence, I think asking in advance sort of makes it feel less real to the person your asking. “Hey boss, I’d like to take a two week vacation next year” just sounds less scary than asking, “Hey boss, I’d like to take a two week vacation starting next week.”
  • Have a Plan & Share it: I don’t mean tell your boss about your vacation plan, but rather have and share a plan for how your work will get done while you’re out. This actually has two benefits. For one, it’ll make your boss feel better about you being gone, plus it’s a good way to highlight and inventory all the things you do day-to-day in your job.
  • Be Matter of Fact About Your Request: I’ve had bosses and managers in the past who I’d describe as passive aggressive. When I asked for a vacation, they’d say something like, “Wow, a vacation sounds nice. I haven’t taken one in five years. Too busy I guess.”  I’ve also had bosses who encouraged taking vacations. Thanks to LinkedIn, I keep tabs on all those old managers and bosses. Guess which ones are more successful? Yep, the ones who were encouraging about taking vacations. The point is, in the end, justifying vacation time isn’t worth it. Bad managers are bad managers, and there’s nothing you can do to change that.
  • Document Your Request: This sounds a little red-tape’ish, but it’s a lesson I’ve learned the hard way. I scheduled a vacation with one of those great managers months in advance, and then that manager gets a promotion or I get a new manager. Rather than asking again, I simply explain that I’ve already scheduled some vacation time that’s been approved. And having that documented is helpful. It can be as simply as an email.

For some additional tips about how to ask for vacation time, or how to make the best use of that time away from the office, check out these resources. You – and your bosses – will thank me later.

Six Ways to Ask for Summer Vacation:

http://excelle.monster.com/benefits/articles/4796-6-ways-to-ask-for-a-summer-vacation?page=2

The Key to a Stress-Free Vacation? No Email.

http://smallbusiness.foxbusiness.com/entrepreneurs/2012/05/07/key-to-stress-free-vacation-no-email/

How to Get More Vacation Time:

http://www.dontmissyourlife.net/how-to-get-more-vacation-time/