Everyone needs to get out of the office occasionally –
whether it’s to go to a doctor’s appointment or just to refresh and recharge.
When you work for a small business, it can be difficult to get away because just
one person’s absence can change everyone’s schedules and workloads. Even if you
have paid time off (PTO) available, you might find it difficult to ask for time
away from work. But, taking a break from work every now and then is essential
for maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Follow these eight steps to help
you confidently ask for time off.
Before you submit your request, make sure you have enough
hours available and are following all the instructions carefully. If the
company did not include leave policies in the employee handbook, ask your boss how
they would like you to submit a request.
2. Give as much notice as possible
Try to submit your request as soon as you know that you’ll
need to be away from the office. If you ask early enough, your boss will be
able to review the request, your coworkers will be prepared to pick up some of
your workload, and you can finish any outstanding work.
3. Choose the timing carefully
Try to submit your request when your boss is in a good mood
and not distracted by other things. If they’re in a bad mood or just got out of
back-to-back meetings, they’ll be less receptive to your request and might
think that you’re not a team player. Asking your boss when they’re not stressed
will increase the likelihood that your request will be approved.
4. Think about the company’s calendar
Occasionally, you can’t help being out of the office during
a busy season for your company. But, try not to ask for too much PTO if there’s
something big going on in the company. For example, if your team has a major
project due at the end of the month, you might want to postpone your trip until
all the deadlines are met.
5. Put it in writing
When you’re requesting time off, always put the request in
writing, and ask that your boss respond in writing, too. That could mean that
you ask your boss via email or that you submit the request through your company’s
HR software. If you have it in writing, you won’t have to worry that
someone else will request the same day off or that your boss will forget and
wonder where you are.
6. Be respectful
When you submit your out-of-office request, remember that it
is a request. In other words, ask
your boss; don’t demand it. Don’t say, “I’ve booked a trip at the end of the
month and will be gone for 3 days”. Instead, say, “I would like to go on
vacation at the end of the month. Would it be possible for me to take a few days
off?” By requesting time away before booking hotels, you’re not left in the
awkward position of cancelling your plans, and your boss can let you know if
it’s not a good time.
7. Plan your workflow
If you’re going to be out of the office for multiple days,
then create a plan for how your work will be handled before and during your
absence. Try to do as much beforehand as you can, so your coworkers aren’t left
trying to handle your responsibilities on top of their own. Then, ask your
coworkers who would be available during your absence to handle anything that
pops up or that can’t be finished before you leave.
8. Accept the response
Just because you have vacation available doesn’t mean your boss has to approve every request. They might turn it down because it’s a busy season for the company, you have a major deadline coming up, or a coworker will already be out of the office. If your boss denies your request, don’t “call in sick” and take it off anyway. Instead, accept the response and remember that your boss isn’t saying you can’t take off at all; you just can’t take off at that time.