According to a recent blog post in The Wall Street Journal, Americans are throwing away $52.4 billion every year because they cannot or will not take a vacation. I know many talent advisors who fall into this category. The HR calendar at many companies is fast-paced and brutal. Many of us are caught up in a whirlwind of activity and feel as if we have no control over our work schedules.
Some of those talent advisors are right. When it comes to asking for a day off, they hear no more than they hear yes.
So how do you ask for time off when you fear hearing no?
1. Collaborate with Your Colleagues.
Before you request a day off work, make sure you’re working collaboratively with your colleagues to provide seamless coverage. If you’re out for 24 hours, ensure that someone steps in to fill the gap. And provide reciprocal coverage for your colleagues, too. When you request a day off work, tell your supervisor that you have a plan to avoid drama and disorder.
2. Timing is Everything.
You would never ask your mom for five bucks after failing a test or bringing home a note from your teacher. Don’t ask your HR director for time off on the end of a difficult conversation or after receiving negative feedback from your client. Find your boss after you’ve done something smart and savvy. Share the good news. Then ask for time off within that 24-hour period. Or find your boss after lunch — when the odds are she’s had something insufficient to eat — and ask if she has a second. Bring her a snack. Food makes everything better.
3. Think Long-Term.
If you’re dreaming of a Disney vacation during spring break, you’re not alone. You and every other suburban family will flood the park between March and May. Early planning and an early request means that your odds of being granted the time off will be more successful.
4. Ask with Conviction.
Finally, remember that your PTO and vacation days are part of your total compensation package. If you earn $50,000 each year but don’t use your 10 vacation days, that’s like handing your boss a check for $2,000 for the privilege of having a job.
When you ask somebody for something that is owed to you, don’t phrase it in the form of a weak question. Make eye contact, make the request, and concisely outline the ways in which this is no big deal.
Confidence and clarity are your two biggest assets at work and in life. Be confident and clear when you ask for time off.
Throughout the month of July, our resident talent advisors are discussing issues around work-life balance. Subscribe to Talent Advisor to stay on top of the latest blog posts and discussions around unlimited PTO, modeling good work-life behaviors as an employer, working from home, gender differences and PTO, maternity and paternity leave, and much more.