The Old is Yet New

My wife and I arrived late Saturday at our destination in Newport. It was a warm day, and people were still strolling along enjoying their day. It truly was going to be a great week just to relax and enjoy the downtime.

Looking forward to some fun times here in Newport. Weather is great, and there is plenty to reacquaint ourselves with. We have been coming here for over 20 years and it though much of the area is well known to us it is amazing how we seem to find something new we didn’t on previous visits.

The old is yet new as it has much to show us as long as you are willing to learn.

© Timothy A. Wilson All Rights Reserved

The Lazy Hazy Days of Summer

The wife and I just came back from a vacation in Newport Rhode Island the weather was great and for me it was relaxing. Normally this time of year we have our granddaughter but as I wrote in an earlier post she is recovering from a horrific car accident and it will be some time before she will be able to come and visit us. However, writing this post isn’t about our granddaughter its focus is on an interesting article I read in the Huffington Post on Americans not taking their vacation time.

The article cited a study that pointed out 4 in 10 employees will leave personal time off (PTO) on the table. It also pointed out that employees suffer from a martyr complex believing no one else can do their job. Others feel they need the face time with their boss even though the “reach out and touch someone” has become a reality with Skype, GoTo Meeting, Twitter, and constant emails. And there is that lingering effect of still being in a tough economy.

But what really got my attention was the stat that said that 67% of American employees receive mixed messages from their companies about taking time off, and that’s why they leave so much vacation time on the table. This is something I find much more plausible as to reasons why folks won’t take their PTO.

If you’re receiving unclear messages from your boss around you taking vacation time it becomes a bit confusing when they come and complain about the fact you have too much vacation time on the books. It makes you wonder what you’re supposed to do when you pick up the subtle message that sure you can take time off, but if you do it could affect you negatively. Depending where you are on your career path you might wrongly feel only the week need vacation time. If you do you’re completely wrong my friend.

People who believe their indispensable need to stick their hand in a bucket of water, pull it out, and measure the size of the hole, that’s how indispensable you are. I’m not saying what you do isn’t important, what I am saying is that your health is important and you need to recharge your batteries if you expect to perform at a high level. I’m also saying that managers shouldn’t engage in a mixed message campaign around taking vacation time. It should be clear and definitive. The same study found that having their employees take their time off resulted in them being more productive and the clearer they were about it people took the time coming to them. So a use it or lose policy is clear message about taking vacation time.

I know some of you have managers who insist that all their employees make themselves available even when on vacation. Let me share a story with you.

I was starting a new job and one of the legends told in the group was about our group manager and is insistence that all managers be reachable at all times and if they were on vacation they were to leave a contact number. One of the managers was resistant to the idea and voiced it strongly the to the group manager. He related and posted his contact number on the board. As expected something came up and group manager asked where he was he had forgotten he was on vacation. The group manager asked if he left his contact information his secretary told him it was on the whiteboard as he requested. He asked her to call it and put it on speaker, she did. When she finished dialing he increased the volume on the phone so everyone could hear because he was going to berate the manager because the manager told him nothing of major importance would happen that required him to call in or couldn’t be handle by his people. When the call went through the group manager was tripping all over himself to disconnect the phone. The reason, the manager who went on vacation left the number for dial a prayer.

I don’t know if the dial a prayer service is still available, but if it is maybe that should be your contact number for your boss when you go on vacation and he feels the need to interrupt during your time off.

© Timothy A. Wilson All Rights Reserved

Take Your Vacation, You Earned It!

I find the ending of this month quite interesting. To start with, I celebrated my 65th birthday with no fanfare but did treat myself to some small purchases. We had our granddaughter for her annual visit with us. She managed to keep us on our toes and made us realize that we’re not as young as we like to think we are. She went home yesterday and I’m missing her already and can’t wait till she comes out again next summer.

I would like to recommend that if you haven’t seen Despicable Me 2 you should go see it even if you don’t have a young child with you as we did. It’s a fun movie.

As today is the last day of July, I want to wish a good and dear friend Ken a Happy Birthday.

July and August are traditional vacation months for most Americans, but, too many of us horde our vacation time or don’t take it because we mistakenly believe that we’re too valuable and can’t leave the office. For all of you who believe that let me repeat what I said in my post on vacation, “if you die tomorrow, they’re not going to lower the flag half staff for you.”

If you have vacation time take it, your earned it, because tomorrow isn’t a guarantee.

© Timothy A. Wilson 2013. All Rights Reserved

Vacation Anyone?

I know a number of people who like to “save up” their vacation time. A good fiend of mine has hit the max he can roll over and has to take days or he starts losing time. I don’t bother to ask why he doesn’t take the time off because I know this is a hold over from a previous company we both worked for that allowed us to rollover up to 320 (8 weeks) of vacation time.

Here in the U.S. people hoard vacation time for a number of reasons. If married, the husband and wife might not be able to get the same time off. Then there are those who think by hording their vacation time they will get a nice chunk of change if they’re downsized or they retire. There are those who truly believe the company can’t function without them.

I used to “save up” my vacation time. At one point, I had 320 hours the max allowed. Then someone said to me, “so if you died tomorrow do you think they will lower the flag out front for you because you saved your vacation time?”

Part of our problem is many of us just don’t know how to relax. We think a vacation is supposed to be one where you rush to see the sites or do activities. It’s time to relax and do what you want when you want. It’s your time to recharge so you can make it through the rest of the year as sane as possible.

If we’re to be at the top of our game, time away from the office is necessary. Most of us only get two weeks out of the year so why US based companies are so stingy is a mystery. But, it doesn’t mean you should be willing to give them up thinking you’re being a good employee and helping the team out buy delaying your vacation. In reality, you would be doing the company and your team a bigger favor by going on vacation. Let me give you two reasons why.

Your fellow employees don’t want to hear about your martyrdom! Do you enjoy hearing the complaints from fellow workers about how they sacrifice their vacation for the good of the project? If no, why do you think members of your team will want to hear you complain in a similar manner?

You’re costing the company money by not taking your vacation! Accumulated vacation time is an expense that companies have to carry on their books. It can get quite expensive for a company if they have a large portion of their workforce have a large set of unused vacation time. Most companies who allow their employees to rollover their vacation time would rather you take the time you have coming.

Consider this, you get to work 50 weeks out of the year, you only get two weeks when you can be away from the stress and strain of your job. Why would you want to short change yourself and only take a few days off under the mistaken belief you only need a few days to recharge? You earned, take it and remember they’re not going to lower the flag outside to half staff just because you saved your vacation time.

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