The first year at your job is a key time to show grit, make a name for yourself and lay groundwork for a promotion. To pick up and leave for a vacation in the first 12 months, therefore, may seem an untimely venture; but it doesn’t have to be. When handled correctly, an organized vacation can be incredibly beneficial. In fact, a 2011 Intuit study showed that, of small business owners taking vacation, 82 percent saw an increased job performance when they returned to work.
Time off gives you a chance to get away, find inspiration and recharge. You can even craft your vacation into a tax deduction! Regardless of the benefits you hope to achieve, a vacation during the first year should not be seen as an impossibility. In order to take time off but still look responsible, do the following:
Plan – Tentatively – in Advance
So, you want to make a tactical request for a vacation. The first thing you should consider is if you’re doing well in your job. If you’re underperforming, it may not be the best time to ask off.
If you’re doing well and deserve a vacation, you’ll still need to ask for permission. You should run dates by the boss before making official plans. A colleague could have already snagged your desired week – there are often policies in place allowing only a certain number of employees to vacation at once – or a not-yet-announced event/project could fall within the window.
Regardless, you’ll want to ask as far in advance as possible. This will allow you to nab the week of your choice, seem well prepared and give the boss ample time to make any necessary arrangements for your absence. Take it upon yourself to make tentative plans months before the intended vacation time. A few weeks will not cut it.
Once you have received the boss’s permission, get your transportation, lodging and activities in order and finalized – then turn to the boss again to confirm your time off. It’s important to be open; have everything out on the table so that planning and delegation can be taken care of as soon as possible.
After you’ve confirmed with the boss, tell your colleagues as well. Chances are that, even if you’re not part of a team, you play a role in the office community: answering questions, bringing breakfast once a week, etc. When you’re part of a team effort, though, it’s particularly important to share the news of your vacation. Roles and responsibilities that you usually cover will probably be shifted to someone else, and anyone who will be affected should be in the loop.
Once word of your plan is out, think about every detail regarding your work responsibilities. That breakfast you bring once a week? Someone will have to cover that. That important document you’ve been working on that everyone seems to need all the time? Inform people of when it will be completed and where they can access it during your absence. If there are smaller/more general tasks that others can complete, try to share the wealth. Consider every little thing you do on a daily basis. Make a list of your duties and who will be covering which item. You may even consider sharing this list with your boss. The last thing you want is to come back from a glorious vacation and be hounded for irresponsibility.
Cover Communication Goals
While 76 percent of Americans check emails and voicemails on vacation, others don’t read a single email from the office. Decide how much, if at all, you wish to communicate with colleagues during your vacation. Studies show that balancing some communication with unplugging on vacation leads to feeling more productive and recharged upon return to work. If you’re going with complete disconnect, let everyone at the office know that you will be unavailable. Maybe you plan to check email each morning or dedicate half an hour every day – communicate your intentions before leaving.
Don’t forget to activate your email auto-reply telling senders that you’re out of the office. Fifty-two percent of individuals sending work emails expect responses within 12-24 hours, so a weeklong wait with no explanation might not go over well.
Should your boss give the impression that she expects to be able to reach you, take this into consideration. Is it worth overriding her wishes in order to achieve a peaceful week away? That’s something you need to decide. Whatever it is you choose, however, you need to explain it openly and honestly. If she thinks she will be able to get in touch with you, she should be able to.
Plan for Your Return
I know. Thinking about your return before you even leave can be a buzz kill. However, if you want to vacation responsibly in your first year, it’s necessary. You’re going to have to face the makeup grind – unless you did a killer job sharing your tasks with others – and should be prepared to do so. Make a list of things that will need to be done and think of the most efficient ways to get everything completed.
Here’s the good part! After your long, drawn-out planning, you get to head off and enjoy some time for yourself. Communicate if you said you would, but balance this with relaxation. Relish your time out of the office, and allow your vacation to leave you feeling recharged.