A strong work ethic should surely be applauded but the practical ramifications of “all work and no play” must be rationally considered, by management and employees alike, for long-term success and viability in the workplace.
So how do we ask for days off when ultra-competitive work practices is the norm? Below are several things to keep in mind in regards to PTO and how to remain competitive in your work environment.
Industry and Company Culture
While the general heuristics below are sufficient for most typical scenarios, the prevailing factor that should affect how and when you use vacation days is your specific company and industry culture. Be aware of your company’s normative practices and industry specific demands, e.g. if you work in retail, requesting off a week between Thanksgiving and Christmas will likely be blacked out.
In more casual business environments, verbal requests may be the norm but for all their ease, the practice can introduce other potential complications. Whether your request is verbal or documented, be sure to send a reminder email to your supervisor a week or two before your PTO.
This provides an opportunity for your boss a chance to address time-sensitive or other matters that need to be addressed before your time off while also insuring you aren’t pinned with an unreasonable backlog upon your return, a mountain of work showing up on your desk hours before your flight to Cancun, or possibly worst of all, working from Cancun.
Bosses can be forgetful just as often as their workers and by extending an informal, unrequired reminder to your supervisor, you display foresight and responsibility any employer would appreciate.
Put in a Quarter
Three months of work at a new company is a common rule of thumb before submitting your first “request off.” You should use this time to climb your respective learning curve and by waiting at least this long will also show responsibility to management. It is also important to not exceed one day requested off per full month worked.
The earlier your request is on the books the better. Plan at least three to six months ahead of time for the highest chance of requests approved while also reflecting organizational skills to management.
To reiterate, these tips are just to be used as a guide as your specific situation will be dictated by environmental company and industry culture.
Don’t Ask on a Monday
Phrasing and timing your request submission can be just as important as when you are requesting off.
When approaching your supervisor, ensure it is phrased as a question, not a statement. Show deference even if you are contractually entitled to vacation days.
It is no mystery that people in the office are generally happier towards the end of the week or after a good lunch. Time your request submission to not fall on grumpy ears. For example, a slow Friday after you've submitted weekly tasks will yield better results than approaching your boss after a three-hour, Monday morning staff meeting.
Send your request with large timeframe ex. “I’m looking to employ some vacations days this summer,” rather than, “I am taking off June 1, 2, 4, and 5.” This allows management flexibility to coordinate other business practices around your absence.
-Be mindful of industry and company normative practices
-Put some work in and make your presence known at a new company before requesting time off
-Submit plans far in advance and phrase as an interrogative, not a declaration.
-Try to send send requests when your boss is in a good mood.
Following these tips and remaining vigilant to your specific company and industry culture is the best way to ensure you use your contractually allotted vacation days, soak up mental and physical rejuvenation of vacation, and accomplish this without losing your competitive edge.