Time Off is a Battlefield


 “Too much work, too much vacation, too much of any one thing is unsound.”

– Walter Annenberg

 Employees want more time off.  Employers want more work.  It is a fight with no end, no winner.  Or is it?

We can all handle this ancient conflict better.  Here are some ways:

  1. For the traditionalists (about 99% of all companies), do not handle time off requests on a case-by-case basis.  (“Please, boss, may I have the afternoon off?”)  Instead, have a written policy in your employee handbook with clear definitions and procedures to follow.
  2. All policies have exceptions, especially for short-notice requests for time off.  Consider the circumstances and the employee, because when a pipe bursts or a child is sick, you can’t ask two weeks in advance.  Sometimes you have to use your judgment.
  3. Change the paradigm (i.e. think out of the box).  Here are some out of the box ideas:
  • A recent study showed that employees working at companies with flextime (a variable work schedule) had a 44% higher level of “well being” than companies without flextime.  Benefits to the employer of flextime:  increased employee happiness, better retention, and easier time recruiting talent.
  • Another study showed that 1% of companies give employees unlimited time off, as long as the employee gets their job done.  3% give unlimited sick or personal days. Studies also show that at these companies, employees do not take off any more time than they would at companies with strict policies. The ones who take advantage are the ones who take advantage of any system.
  • Give PTO (paid time off) days instead of vacation, sick and personal days.  That way, employees can decide for themselves how to allocate time off.  Employees are treated as adults and don’t have to make excuses, and it promotes flexibility and work life balance.

Time is the most valuable resource any of us has.  Employers and employees alike want more of it.  Let’s help our employees with clear rules, some common sense, and creative thinking.

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