The PTO Debate

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The end of the year is coming, and you know what that means?! Yes, ok, so the holidays are right around the corner, but you also need to schedule the rest of your paid time off!

Having recently started an adventure with a new company, I tossed and turned a bit with this issue. With so many projects going on at work, I felt like I shouldn’t be taking any time off, but, what was I supposed to do? At my place of work, if you don’t use it, you lose it. I was at a cross roads.

So, I decided to level the playing field and take a few days off in November and a few in December. This past week, I used two and a half days, and what did I end up doing?…I drilled out a few work projects.

Was I happy with my progress? Sure! But, when you use your “paid time off,” aren’t you supposed to be using it to relax, or spend time with family, go on vacation, etc.? I know that many people in my office use it for doctor’s appointments, going to the dentist, etc. because they have SO MANY days of PTO that they don’t know what else to do with themselves. On the other hand, some people that I work with end up using all of their PTO before the end of the year because they have children, and their children get sick, have dentist appointments, etc. Either way, they’ll end up working on a project, responding to emails, or doing something work related during their day, or few days, of PTO.

And, in my case, with having to use all of my PTO before the end of the year, our office constantly stresses using it “wisely” and “thinking about all of the projects we have to do” before deciding which days are the “best” for us to leave.

The truth is, there really is no “good” day to leave the office. And, sometimes you just have to use your PTO so that it’s gone. My recommendation is to NOT take a huge chunk of time off during one specific month, but to split up your days between months. But, your PTO time is also YOUR time. If your boss or coworkers want something from you, they need to reach out to you before you leave on vacation.

I recently got in trouble because I scheduled a family vacation during our office’s holiday party. But, like I said, it’s YOUR TIME. What are they going to do? They gave you X amount of days off. It’s the company’s problem if they find that too many people are taking off on specific days. And then, they’re going to try and pin it on you for taking those specific days off? PTO shouldn’t come with rules. It should be considered a gift from the company!

The more hours I work in corporate America, the more I believe that we’re all overworked and underpaid, and we’re constantly made to feel bad about the time that we want to spend with our families. Sometimes, I laugh silently to myself when I think about the unemployment rate in this country. Really? You don’t want to hire a few more people to help out with your work load? I know that I could certainly use an assistant, and I’m not even a manager, I’m on the ground floor!

And, might I mention, what the hell happened to the days where shops were closed on Sundays? What happened to Sunday being known as “family” day? Since technology has come around, it’s caused so many of us to think that work is more important, because our “world” is right at our fingertips.

In the end, our jobs and our possessions aren’t going to be there for us when we’re struggling on our death bed…it’s going to be our family and our dearest friends who will help us, and make us forget about our pain by bringing up the good times that we shared with one another. But, what if we’ve been so wrapped up in what we’re doing, that we never allotted time for the “the good times?” What do you think about that, corporate America?…

 

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There’s Cake in the Conference Room!

It’s 8 a.m. You get to work, pour yourself a cup of coffee, think about what you need to do for the day, and then…you open your inbox…and you notice THAT email, “Sales are through the roof this month! Enjoy a cupcake in the kitchen!!” Your next thought might be one of two:

1)      Ugh!

or

2)      Yes!

As someone who is new to the working world, and who works in a larger office, during my first few weeks on the job, I was completely taken aback when I received these emails two, sometimes three, times a week.

But, over the course of my time at the company, I realized that there are two types of triggered actions that happen when someone gets one of these emails:

1) Receives email, immediately jumps up from chair, heads to kitchen
2) Receives email, shakes head, deletes email, moves on with day

As someone who is obsessed with food, I’ll admit that I’m a number one type of gal. But, I do work with a lot of individuals that are number two. At my company, most of the employees are in their 20’s, and most of the managers are in their 30s or older. And, when it comes to these emails, I’ve noticed that subordinates tend to be number ones, and their managers tend to be number twos. Now, is this because as you age your metabolism gets slower and you’re a bit more conscious of what you eat? Maybe…

But, this topic really got me thinking…In general, is it a good idea to use sweets for celebratory purposes in the workplace?

On one hand; yes. Because not everyone can afford to buy their office mates a new car every time it’s their birthday or their work anniversary, buying a cake or a few pastries seems to be the best option. At my office, I know that when people bring in desserts, they’re gone by mid-day, if not the end of the day, and the person who ends up bringing in these sweets always receives a few “thank you” emails. So, why not, right?

But on the other hand…no. With the obesity epidemic in this country, and with so many people trying their hand at a new diet every week, bringing in these treats releases that initial jolt of temptation, and your coworker’s nasty thought of, damn you, (insert name here), not again!

In conclusion, I always find that bringing in a treat is a bit of a win/lose battle. You’re going to have some people that love you for it because you’re recognizing an anniversary, achievement, or you really just love your coworkers. But, you’re going to have some people who hate it because you’re messing with everyone’s diets, and you might be thought of as “disrespectful”  or “isolating the minority” because some people might have allergies, or need to be dairy free, or gluten free, and can’t join in on the fun. Either way, there will be bad blood.

So, my suggestion: Our CEO is an extremely generous individual, and every Tuesday he orders two fresh fruit baskets for the office. The fruit is usually gone within a day or two, but everyone is very appreciative because it is a nice change from all the sweets that rotate throughout the week. For your place of work, I would recommend bringing in fruit, or, because fruit can be expensive, find a recipe for a dessert where you can substitute those calorie induced ingredients to something a little less painful. And then tell your coworkers about the substituted ingredients. I’ve found that a lot of popular magazines these days willingly provide alternative recipes to life’s biggest food temptations.

And, because I am such a big sweets eater, I usually try to stick to the rule of thumb, “one and done.” Or, if it’s something like a massive cookie that probably has 1,500 calories, break it in half, or in thirds. Never deprive yourself of a treat because you’re worried about gaining extra weight…one won’t kill you, and that’s what exercise is for!

So, good luck with those sweet temptations!

Granny Smith- over and out