Pandemic Crushes Vacation Plans

Being at home is not the same as taking time off

What do you do when you are supposed to get vacation time but you just can’t get away? I’m supposed to get two weeks paid vacation each year but this year we can’t really afford to go anywhere because my partner lost his job, not to mention it’s hard to turn off work since I am working from our apartment and there don’t seem to be any breaks. If I don’t take the time off, I will lose the vacation days. 

Dear Use it or Lose it:

I admire your work ethic and commitment but let’s be honest. Everyone needs to take a day off and it sounds like you need one! We all think we are irreplaceable but I hate to break it to you – that is not reality, and honestly, I bet your partner would love some company. Being at home is not the same as being on vacation. Some people are using Covid-19 as a time to get in low or no-cost staycations and explore the great outdoors, go for a hike, take a day-long road trip or just block out your Fridays for the summer and turn off the computer. Employers want their employees to take time off and I’m sure yours would encourage and support you logging out. You will be a better, more refreshed and productive person if you take care of yourself, and that means taking your vacation days. That being said, if you simply cannot get away, you may want to find out if your company is making any exceptions to roll the days over to next year, or pay you out at the end of the year. Companies are getting creative and accommodating unusual requests to take care of their people – especially hard-working, dedicated ones like you!

Do you have any advice on how to get recognized by your boss, get promotions or ask for a raise when we are all stuck at home? Unlike a lot of other people, I am not good at “self-promotion” and I don’t think my boss even knows what I do and it’s even worse now that we’re not at work.

Dear Not Getting Enough Attention:

I get asked similar questions about promotions and raises all of the time, but am fascinated and curious why you think your boss doesn’t know what you do. Believe me. We are all anxious to get back to work (the office, the jobsite or anywhere but home). Regardless of whether you are more laid back than others, if you want to get promoted or make more money, you must first figure out how to get your boss’s attention. The fact that you don’t think your boss even knows what you do is a problem, so either take the initiative to develop better communication or suffer in silence, especially since your boss isn’t reaching out to you (and that is for another column). Whether you are working in-person or remotely, you still have to figure out ways to interact, socialize, collaborate and be seen. It’s time to get that meeting on the books and talk to your boss. 

Before Covid-19 we used to be able to walk past a door, peek our head in and say, “Hey, got a minute?” But since we are working from home and struggling with the loss of in-person interactions, we can still send an email, text or instant message to our boss and say, “Got a minute? I’d like to talk about my performance and how I can get a raise.” One word of caution: Do not have this conversation via email, but you can have a very meaningful virtual talk using meeting software or the simple but reliable telephone. And I’d bet money on you getting a response that is an open door for the conversation if you just assert yourself. Good Luck!

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