Last month a dear friend of mine wanted to celebrate her birthday in Miami. She asked us to leave early on a Friday morning so we could get to the beach as quickly as possible. That sounded like a splendid idea. The only problem was that half of us actually had to work that day.
At first I was so concerned about what the people in my office would say that I decided to just go to work and meet up with her the next day. Then I thought about all of the times I put relationships on the backburner throughout my career and decided that I would simply request the day off. It was approved and I headed to the beach.
When I returned to work the next week, I made a casual comment about my heavy workload to a colleague and she made the following statement to me:
“Well, maybe you should spend less time partying in Miami.”
In the past, I would have shamefully agreed. Unfortunately, vacation guilt is common in America’s workforce. A recent study showed that nearly half (47 percent) of all survey participants said they experienced shame or guilt for taking time off from work. But throughout my career I’ve seen layoffs, depression, melt downs, heart attacks, and, sadly, death in the workplace. During those traumatic experiences, many people expressed regret over spending so much time working instead of enjoying life and the people they loved. The only resolution I set for 2016 was to make more time for the people who were important to me. So hell yeah I went to Miami! I looked my colleague directly in the eyes and told her just that. Then I merrily went back to plowing through my task list with the sounds of beach waves, reggae and the birthday song all playing in my head.
I had personal reasons for making my friend’s birthday a top priority so I’m not suggesting you should always take a day off to celebrate every life moment! But if you work smart, you can afford to prioritize these life moments without jeopardizing your career. Here are few tips that should help you take time off when you need/want to do so:
Frontline/Hourly/Team Member – You are normally working in an environment where attendance guidelines are rigidly defined because your presence has a direct impact on productivity for the day. So it’s important to provide as much notice as possible if you need to attend a graduation, birthday party or other special occasion. Keep in mind that there are other people who are going to make similar requests. When taking a day off is not an option, consider swapping your scheduled shift with another team member to avoid or minimize disruptions.
Individual Contributor – Use your credibility and relationships as leverage. Start developing a solid reputation for providing quality work on time and establishing a strong level of trust with your manager. As long as you don’t go dark during major projects and crucial deadlines, face time becomes less important and you should be able to take a break from work with minimal issues.
Managers – You may feel like the building can’t stand without you. But the truth is…it can. And it will if you invest in the development of your team. Start building their competency levels to the point they feel empowered to make the right decisions when you are away from work. Ensure they have a solid network of resources (people, data access, standard operating procedures, etc.) to keep moving so that you can take time off without guilt or anxiety.
I’ll be honest – I don’t even like Miami! But I love to share experiences and create amazing memories with the people I love. Remember to make time for life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jalyn Isley is a human resources manager at PepsiCo who has nearly ten years of experience in employee relations and talent development. She has built her career around helping professionals deliver results and position themselves for career success. In 2015, Jalyn founded her own practice, CEO Coaching, to help more people develop their inner CEOs and turn their goals into realities.
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