Fall is upon us, and the holiday season is right around the corner. During this time of year, it isn’t uncommon to start planning for family gatherings and that typically involves time off from work.
Asking to use vacation time can feel awkward, especially if you’re afraid of looking as though you are putting off your duties or aren’t a team player. But using your vacation time is healthy, so requesting a little time away isn’t a bad thing.
If you want to increase your odds of being allowed to take some time off, here is what you need to do.
Understand the Rules
Almost every company has basic policies and procedures regarding vacation time, and making sure your request aligns with those guidelines is critical if you want it to be approved. To make sure everything follows the rules, take some time to review the employee handbook and check to see how many vacation days you have available before you ask for time off. Also, consider whether there are any informal standards if your department, especially if you are trying to take a vacation that lasts for a week or more.
By understanding the rules, you can ensure your request is reasonable before you approach your manager.
Consider Your Workload
Once you have reviewed the policies and procedures, it’s time to examine your workload. Determine whether there are any deadlines, events, or major project milestones that fall during the same period as when you want to take off (or immediately upon your return). If so, you ought to adjust your vacation plans to make sure you can meet your workplace obligations.
You also want to consider how your absence will be covered by other members of your team, especially if someone else is going to have to pick up a few major tasks while you’re gone. In some cases, you may be able to adjust your schedule or speed up certain processes, so you don’t burden co-workers. If that isn’t possible, you’ll need to create a plan to make sure whoever is covering your duties can do so with ease.
Ask as Soon as Possible
Now that you’ve settled on some dates, you want to turn your request in as quickly as you reasonably can. The more notice you give your manager, the better, as this allows them to make adjustments in advance and increases the odds everything will be approved.
You do need to remember that you are “requesting” time off, so your manager doesn’t have to approve it regardless of the amount of notice. Don’t cement your plans (such as by booking plane tickets and hotel rooms) until you know for certain that you can use your vacation time. However, having a plan in place for the coverage of your duties can make it easier to say “yes,” so be prepared before you submit the request.
Pick the Right Time
Everyone has good days and bad days, and asking for an extended vacation when your manager is stressed isn’t as likely to be approved as when they are in a positive place. Be considerate of their schedule and try to find a moment when things are peaceful to have the conversation.
Accept Their Decision
Even when you do everything right, they could still deny your request. Issues with project timelines and busy seasons could play a role as well, as if someone else on your team is already approved to be absent during that period. If they say “no,” accept their decision. You can see if another time would be acceptable and adjust your plans accordingly, but arguing (or simply leaving for vacation, anyway) won’t play in your favor.