With summer underway, it’s time to reconsider ignoring that vacation time that you think you don’t need. According to the Glassdoor Employment Confidence Survey (Q1 14), the average U.S. employee only takes half (51%) of his or her eligible vacation time. Some are able to cash in their time off and work through the year, grasping on to their weekends and national holidays for opportunities to relax. However, not all employers provide this option and employees who are offered time off are missing out on the entirety of their compensation.
What happens if you don’t take time off? Your overall job performance decreases, you become emotionally shaky and your physical state may worsen. Employers determine the amount of days that their employees should spend away from the office for a purpose. They want you to recharge and stay motivated.
Now that you know why taking advantage of your vacation time is crucial, let’s talk about five ways to make sure you actually take the time off you deserve:
1. Plan ahead
This is a situation where the early bird gets the worm, or preferred vacation time in this case. As soon as you are hired or begin a new year, sit down with your boss to discuss your vacation plans for the foreseeable future. These plans can include anything from a quick trip to visit mom to a special occasion such as a wedding or anniversary. Not only will your boss and peers appreciate the preplanning, but the sooner you notify your team, the better chance of having your request approved. Remember that you can always cancel, but you can’t add extra days at the last minute.
2. Be willing to negotiate
In life we learn that nothing ever turns out the way we want it, and securing vacation time is no exception. You might be the only person in the office over the week of the Fourth of July and might have to take time off during a different week. Perhaps your boss won’t be in town while you wish to take your vacation and you have to step in for him. There are endless scenarios that you may have to be considerate and flexible. While this might act as an inconvenience in the short term, your boss and peers will remember your willingness to work with their schedules and may cut you some slack when you least expect it.
3. Put your business hat on before asking
You can win points with your boss and others by being considerate and sensitive to the business cycle. If you are in finance, it’s not a smart idea to take your vacation during the close of a financial quarter or the annual year. Similarly, there are times for every company, function and job when it would be silly to be out of the office. Know what those “blackout” times are and don’t try and run against this grain. It will be fruitless and will likely make you seem brash to your peers.
4. Be ready to talk about how your work will be done
While it might be hard to predict what work will need to get done (projects, deadlines, etc.) months or a year ahead, you can speak of how you are thinking you will get ready, who will cover for you and what your role will be while you are away. While vacations should allow your mind and body to actually “vacate” your work and office, it’s naïve to think that every person during every vacation will be able to truly tune out completely. Though not ideal, if your boss and peers need to have every confidence that you will be available while on your days off, so be it. But here are “5 Ways To Be On Vacation When You’re Actually On Vacation” for more ideas about how to maximize your vacations.
5. Win support
Getting away on vacation doesn’t simply mean that your boss said you could leave. Sometimes your peers and subordinates have way more influence on your plans than you think. Do you feel like the reason you can’t leave the office is because you have a team that is highly dependent on your presence for success? According to the Glassdoor Employment Confidence Survey, 33% of employees feel like no one else can do their jobs like they can. Plan ahead for what needs to be done while you are away and who will be in charge of delegated tasks. Knowing that they have been left with a specified set of goals will ease their minds and be supportive of your RV trip to the Grand Canyon. Remember that many people have done your job before you, and that many will follow. Train your colleagues to be independent and team savvy.
It’s time to use the vacation that you have earned. With a little more planning and readiness, the only reason that you don’t use your vacation, will be because you choose not to do so.