7 Tips for Getting Your Vacation Request Approved

We send 100 billion business emails a day. We schedule meetings, introduce ourselves to new partners, send sales pitches, media clips, and follow-up notes. And yet, too many of us can’t find the words when it comes to requesting time off.

What is there to be afraid of? Not much, as research shows that this conflict is mostly in our heads. In reality, managers believe that using vacation time is important to maintaining or reinvigorating team energy levels. Managers also believe that time away from work improves employee attitudes and makes employees more productive.

But there is a communications gap between managers’ beliefs about time off and employees’ perceptions. In our State of American Vacation report, we found that 66 percent of employees said they heard either nothing, mixed messages, or negative messages about taking vacation time. This is contributing to America leaving 658 million vacation days on the table. 

Paid time off is not something to be feared. If you’re ready to take back some of your vacation days, here are seven tips for getting your request approved.

  1. Plan for time-off well in advance – Timing is everything. Give your manager and team enough time to ensure proper coverage and plan for your absence.
  2. Coordinate with coworkersThirty-one percent of managers admit that they worry about the optics of having too many employees on vacation at once. Work with your colleagues to space out your vacation requests and ensure that your responsibilities are covered while you are away.
  3. Be conscious of your busy seasonForty-three percent of managers acknowledge that there are certain times of the year where they cannot afford to lose employees to vacation time. This doesn’t mean that you can’t take any vacation; it just means that you have to plan around these peak times.
  4. Get as much done in advance as possible – Build up goodwill with co-workers and manager trust by advancing your projects as much as possible before going on vacation. If you show that you won’t leave people hanging, you’ll be more likely to have future vacation requests approved.
  5. List out your daily tasks and deliverables – When you take vacation, it gives everyone else the opportunity to navigate your daily duties and challenges. This also helps cross-train your team in the event that someone needs to take time off unexpectedly.
  6. Send a reminder – Surprisingly, 40 percent of employees fail to send a reminder in advance of their vacation. Consider putting a reminder on your colleagues’ calendars and don’t forget to set your out of office message with a notice of when you will return.
  7. Support teammates when it’s their turn for time off –  Eighty percent of employees said if they felt fully supported and encouraged by their boss, they would be likely to take more time off. By pitching in when others are out, you can help build an organizational culture that encourages time off.

What other tips do you have for getting your vacation time approved? Share on Twitter with #TakeADay. 

Note: The data and statistics referenced in this post have been updated since we originally published this post. Learn more about the State of American Vacation 2017.

July 13, 2015