It’s Sunday morning and I just finished approving payroll and PTO to get a jump start on Monday. Now onto my packing and to-do list of things needed to get ready for my summer vacation, but wait, I have a few other things to wrap up for work and this blog is one of them. What better thing to write about than what I am doing right now…getting ready for vacation both at home AND for work!
I have been supervising employees for 25 years. Here is what I see are the most common mistakes made when taking personal time off (PTO) or vacation time and how to prevent them.
- Inform your manager with the required advance notice and as much notice as possible. Every company is different and your handbook may specify a notice that is preferred. Bottom line, talk to your manager as soon as the idea of the time off is explored so you are extending the most time possible. Managers – if your office doesn’t have a policy, share with your staff what amount of time would work best for you and your environment. Nothing feels worse than having to tell an employee they can’t take their time off because the notice was so short there is not time to plan for coverage.
- If your trip or time off is short notice, visit with your manager BEFORE just assuming they can accommodate your request. Remember, you are there to help run a business. It isn’t personal. Your manager’s job is to make sure there are enough people to make all parts of the business run and you play a part in that.
- Don’t just assume you know who will cover your work load. If you have ideas, share those with your manager and discuss the best course of action. Nothing is more awkward than a co-worker asking another to manage their work load while they take a vacation. It is hard, if not impossible, to tell a co-worker “no” in that situation. Remember, you just asked them to work MORE while you are gone. They may smile to your face and tell you yes and then be upset behind your back because you get to sip margaritas while they work unwanted overtime.
- Make a list of all the duties you manage and any deadlines that occur while you are gone. Put a plan in place to accomplish all you can BEFORE you leave so that your co-worker doesn’t feel resentment over tasks left undone. As mentioned above, work with your manager on who should take over for you. Managers – in some cases, the work load may be split amongst several people to best leverage the strengths of your team. Make note of who is handling what task and communicate (either with a meeting or email) how the work is being handled.
- Assign someone access to your email and phone while you are out. This will make sure any customer action items are handled promptly. There is nothing more frustrating than to hear, “Sorry, we can’t get to you because your person who handles this is out on vacation.” Business shouldn’t stop just because you aren’t there. It could cost your company business and lost sales revenues.
- Schedule time on your first day back with the person or people who handled your job duties. Ask them to keep a list of key things that happened while you are out so that a 15-30 minute meeting to review these things can get you up to speed in no time and make that first day back a breeze. If you are covering for someone, make time the day before your co-worker returns to organize your notes so that you are prepared to give them the information they need to get back up and running efficiently.
Seems simple, right? I am surprised how many people don’t think of planning with their company or their work load until the last minute. This causes unnecessary stress before taking time off and may in the end get your vacation off to a rough start. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is an old saying that some of you may never have heard so I will translate. A little time preparing can save hours of work upon returning to work. Have a great vacation! I will send pics!
Patty North, CPC, SPHR, Celebrity Staff General Manager
As the general manager of Celebrity Staff, a leading staffing and recruitment firm, Patty North has assisted organizations across a four-state region with the development and implementation of best practice strategies in the areas of talent acquisition and talent management. Her collective insight and expertise on workforce planning, garnered from her 19 years in the staffing industry, has enabled clients ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500 corporations to improve performance and gain a competitive advantage in their respective markets. Patty has served as an Advisory Board member of ICAN (Institute for Career Advancement Needs), is a past-president of the NE Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NAFCS), and has been a guest speaker at the University of Nebraska – Omaha on topics ranging from resume writing to interviewing. Patty has also been a guest presenter at Women’s Leadership Conference and break-out session presenter at the Nebraska State Human Resources Association annual conference.
In addition, Patty is a Certified Personnel Consultant (CPC) and has her Senior Professional in Human Resources Certification (SPHR). She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Resources and Family Sciences.