I’m Back From Vacation!!!

Don’t Work While You Are On Vacation!

Stop right there, don’t say it. I already know what you’re thinking. There is NO way I can’t do some work while I am on vacation otherwise my desk and inbox will be full when I get back and I don’t want to deal with it. Well, I say try harder!

It is so relaxing to not do work on vacation. I was gone for a week and hardly thought of this blog. Yes, I said “hardly”. I’ll admit how hard it is to completely go off the grid from work. However, I feel so much more relaxed and rejuvenated.

We’ve Already Discussed PTO

Yes we have, but only the difference between PTO and Vacation. Not the actual process of using it. Not only for ourselves but our team members too. We want you to encourage your team members to use their time. Everyone needs rest and relaxation. If your department is stretched, try to give people a 4-day weekend or an extra 3-day weekend when applicable. If you don’t have those types of concerns, then make sure you check in with the team and find out their vacation schedules early so you can put them on the team calendar so everyone knows when people will be out. This is a great tool for everyone so they know when they need to pick up the slack or when it’s their turn to get out of Dodge!

Cashing Out Time Instead of Taking it.

Please don’t allow this to happen. All you are going to get out of it is a burnt out staff and higher turnover. When you encourage your people to take time off you are effectively telling them that you genuinely care about them and their well-being. Their job will be here when they come back because frankly, you don’t want to do it for them for an extended period of time anyway.

Vacation Season? Is There One?

Generally speaking the summertime is the busiest time for vacations because kids are out of school and it is nice. If you can spread out the vacations during this time then the rest of the team won’t always feel like there is a lack of bodies for a three month period and get burnt out waiting for their turn. Do you have on-call staff that can cover? If so, this will prevent too much overtime for the people that are still in the building. They won’t have to pick up the extra work for the vacationing team mate because you have this built in already.

Some Slack Should be Given upon Return

Now if you have a desk job you know what that inbox looks like when you return from vacation. On the first day back for your team members, set the expectation that the first day back is going to be a catch up day. Try not to schedule them for back-to-back meetings on this day. They will appreciate it and you for giving them the time to catch up on correspondence.

Wineries, Family, and Fun

For me, I spent a glorious week with my family and toured some wineries and ate some fantastic food. Notice how I put wine first! You know!

It filled my heart with joy to reconnect with my cousins and just enjoy life for a bit. After all, why do we work so hard if we can’t enjoy it now and again?!?

PTO vs. Vacation, Sick, and Personal Time

I have always been of the opinion that if my employer offers me vacation or PTO then it is my right to take it for whatever I want without explanation. A PTO policy creates a pool of days that employees can use at their discretion. This creates a sense that they may actually get a true work/life balance. Does your employer ask you for details of your PTO? If so, why?

Why should it matter how employees are using their time? Did they earn it? Did they follow policy and procedure for requesting it? Did it get approved? If so, then you shouldn’t have to go any further. The reason I ask is because if managers are asking why or where someone is going does that make it subjective to the manager to pick and choose which time off they will approve and which they won’t if they don’t like the answer from the employee? Is saying that I want to stay home and work a week in my garden without interruption any less or more important than wanting time off to go to a theme park with the family? Approving time should be based on the policies and procedures of the organization. For example, your company may use the “first come, first served” approach or the “seniority” route. If you use these methods instead of finding out the itinerary of your team member you are in better shape to stay away from a discrimination claim. An employee that overhears an approval for the theme park but then requests the garden time and gets denied may question your decision and your motives resulting in filing a grievance.

A PTO Bucket of Days

This is my favorite way to go only because I haven’t had the experience of unlimited PTO in an organization yet. I’ve read about it but I don’t see a lot of company’s trying this approach quite yet.

I have been in several organizations that allow you to take up to three weeks of vacation/PTO at a time. Now, I know what you are thinking….All that work piling up if you actually took three weeks off. Believe me, I hear you. With as many emails I get on a daily basis, I would not want to come back to over 2600 of them after three weeks away and that would just be the email pile up. There would also be a whole lot of other catch up to do after that amount of time off.

However, some employees are more task-oriented and don’t usually sit at the traditional desk so their work doesn’t pile up. This makes it easier for them to take this amount of time off. I would say that in my experience people take about 5 days off at a time so they can spread out their time off during the year instead of all at once.

Vacation, Sick, and Personal Time

If you have a vacation, sick and personal day type of leave then other problems and concerns may arise. If an employee is ill throughout the year and runs out of their allotted “sick” time they may want to borrow from the personal or vacation bucket. Do you allow this or not and say “Sorry, Charlie”. While some policies allow for the use of vacation for sick time, others don’t and then you run into the employees who may lie or make up stories about how they are using their time.

Employee are Adults…wait, what?

We want to empower our “adult” employees to take their PTO at their discretion so we can stop the practice of needing to ask permission from their managers to miss work. We also want to encourage them to use the time they have earned to decrease burnout in the workplace.

Always, always, always, have policies and procedures to establish how requests are made and granted so you are treating everyone fairly and consistently. Your employees will value the flexibility of PTO vs. the Vacation,Sick, and Personal Day approach.