- You might think it’s better to not ask for vacation time, so you can be a better asset to your company and not frustrate your boss and colleagues.
- But time off is refreshing and restorative, and it benefits your productivity and the company at large.
- Here’s how to ask for time off in a way that respects your boss’ and colleagues’ schedules.
More than half of Americans don’t use all of their vacation days, according to a study by US Travel Association’s Project Time Off.
But taking a break can keep your relationship with your family healthy and flourishing.
And, contrary to what you might think, asking for time off could even impress your boss.
“You don’t have to be scared or worry to ask for a week off,” career and wellness coach Joanna Echols told Business Insider.
“When I was still in my corporate leadership roles I would always value the people who could ask for what they needed with a polite confidence,” Echols said. “I believe that if you know how to take care of your own needs you will also be able to take good care of the company’s needs as well.”
You’ll make your boss and colleagues even happier if you ask and prepare for your time off in a way that respects everyone’s schedule. Here’s how to ask for – and receive – vacation time.
First, research your company’s time off policy
Your company likely has a written policy for taking time off. Follow it.
Julian Phillippi, a career coach and consultant, said a common mistake in asking for time off is not following the written vacation policy.
“Your boss will be much more friendly to the request if you present it in accordance with the policy,” Phillippi told Business Insider.
No policy? Ask your colleagues what’s the best way to submit a time-off request. The key is to make sure you ask in advance and before you book anything.
Plan the best dates and make sure they’re a few months from now
Lawrence Hedblom, founder and managing director of executive coaching firm Springboard Unlimited, recommends asking for time off at least two months in advance.
If you’re trying to get time off between Christmas and New Years or another popular period for vacations, you might ask even earlier. Asking months in advance could ensure that you get that time off.
“With lots of lead time, it’s harder for them to say no,” Hedblom told Business Insider.
Be sure you don’t plan the dates right before major deadlines, Echols said.
Ask your boss in person
The cardinal rule: Do not buy tickets, hotel rooms, or anything else before asking your boss for permission for the dates you planned.
Remember you are asking your boss for vacation time – not informing or demanding them.
“Pick a good time to ask such as when the office is relatively quiet or when you have just delivered a project,” Hedblom said.
Don’t ask in the midst of a deadline or after your boss just left a stressful meeting with his or her boss.
You could try:
“I would like to take off the second week of July. Does that work for you?”
“I’m going to San Francisco the second week of July. Just wanted to let you know. Thanks!”
Follow up by email
“An email provides both you and your boss with a record of what was agreed upon,” Phillippi said.
Remind everyone a week before
Hedblom said a major mistake that many folks make before taking time off is not reminding their colleagues and bosses before they leave.
You should also make sure your coworkers know how to address any projects or clients that might need attention during your vacation.
“Don’t assume the coworker who is going to cover for you is up to speed on your work,” Hedblom said. “Be organised and make it as easy as possible for that person to cover for you so things go well and they will do it again for you.”
Finally, enjoy your trip – and don’t forget to bring back your coworkers some treats from abroad.
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