You work hard at your job and are duly compensated with your salary and benefits, including vacation days. But are you one of the 42 percent of Americans who don't take all their allotted vacation time? Have you been the victim of vacation shaming? If you dread asking for time off because your company doesn't have the best view of vacation days, try one of these strategies to help you take that deserved rest.
It's not always easy to take time off at the last minute, so instead of not picking dates at all, look at your calendar and set aside time, a few weeks or even months into the future, that you can designate as vacation days. Put this time on your desk calendar, office calendar or planner so you know you've got it already reserved. If your office uses a shared calendaring system, block off that time so support staff or co-workers don't fill it up with meetings or other projects.
You may feel guilty leaving for a few days because you're the only one who knows how to run a certain system or work on a certain project. While being an indispensable part of the team is certainly good for job security, it can also backfire on both you and your company. Not only is it tough to take vacation days, but it also makes it difficult to be sick or stay home with a sick child. Think of hypothetical questions or concerns that might arise in your absence, or ask your co-workers to give you questions they might have. Then, based on the input you receive, create a list of answers or a handbook to help keep things running smoothly while you're away.
You can use your handbook or list of questions and answers to cross-train co-workers, and you can also collaborate with those colleagues by covering each other's times out of the office. Agree to not ask for the same time off, and offer to fill in when the other is gone. Present your supervisor with a plan for how things will run so you don't get stuck losing vacation days.
Your paid time off is owed to you. And it's one of the perks that employers use as an incentive to recruit top talent. Don't let your vacation days get wasted because of vacation shaming at your office. If your days don't carry over and you face the chance of losing them, talk to your supervisor about getting additional compensation, especially if your leave request was not given the proper consideration. If you do manage to get your time off, don't spend it checking email and working on projects at home. Enjoy the time off; you earned it.
Your company may not have a culture of supporting requests for vacation days. Instead of forgoing that rest and relaxation you rightfully deserve, be proactive and set aside scheduled days, make a plan for when you're gone, collaborate with your co-workers to create a support system and be firm about using your employee benefits.
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