Things You Wish You Could Say At Work
December 3, 2012 11 Comments
The other day I heard one of our engineers say that he had to take vacation before the end of the year. It seemed he actually wanted to work, but that he had to use the vacation — or he’d lose it.
Wait a sec. Here’s a guy who wants to work, but for whom our “use it or lose it” policy is back-firing. (Of course, he could still take time off and work anyway [I won’t get into that here], and that’s not the point.)
But before I get to my point: I am a big believer in taking time off. In my earlier days, I had a very hard time pulling myself away. I went through what felt like extreme emotional duress, worrying about this, that, and the other thing. I couldn’t sleep, focus, or be present with the people around me.
I was somewhere else and nowhere at all. Maybe you know the feeling.
But over the years, something strange happened. I started learning how to unwind, and began forcing myself to disconnect. And in doing so, I didn’t become lazy (one of my fears), or miss out on something (another fear). Instead, my thinking was enriched, my soul refreshed, and my body renewed. Vacation and time away is a wonderful thing and can actually improve your results. I encourage everyone around me to do it and feel good about it.
So here’s the point — something I wish we could say at work: Why do we even have a vacation policy at all?
I wish we (and other companies) had the guts to implement a policy like this:
- Official Policy: Be Reasonable And Use Your Head. That’s it.
- What does that mean? It means we don’t track vacation or sick days. Take as little or as many as you need to feel creative and productive.
- This doesn’t mean people take time off without getting their job done. Instead, it means that we track their results – and people make sure their work gets done. They’re adults.
I’ve thrown this idea out to people, and I usually get the same question: “Dave, you’re smoking something. What do we do if someone abuses this policy?“
I think that’s easy: We’d let them know they aren’t meeting our “be reasonable and use your head” policy, and we’d say “bye-bye” if it doesn’t improve. They wouldn’t fit in and I fully expect their peers would call them out. I realize there are legal implications that would have to be worked out (especially here in CA), but I feel that (maybe?) the right people would be attracted by a policy like this.
Your turn: What do you think of doing away with vacation policies? What are some things you wish you could say at work, but don’t have the guts to utter?