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Time Off Rejected: The Spring Break/Workforce Management Conundrum

Source | LinkedIn : By Marcus Christian

I am a stodgy guy.  I admit this proudly.  Very close to the “get off my lawn” sort of mentality, I think (and I did say that at one point to a street worker).  And that’s okay.  I’ve learned to accept who and what I am.  I still have fun, but only when it makes sense.  This above all, to thine own self be true.

It therefore should come as a bit of a surprise to know that I have always hated spring break.  At least as an adult anyway.  But I only hate spring break in companies where they don’t have a rigid time off policy.

In today’s news you hear all the time about companies who are literally working their employees to illness and stress.  You see socialist agendas talking about mandatory time off and little restrictions to the time off.  You read articles talking about “forward thinking” employers that offer unlimited time off under an honor system.

The notion is that by allowing workers to take time off, they will be better able to manage stress levels and thus, increase productivity.

I’m actually ok with this notion – though I haven’t taken a “vacation” day in a decade and last took a day off 2 years ago to close on a house – but there are problems with the notion.  It assumes too many things and really needs mitigation.

First, it assumes that people are not going to abuse the system, or if they do, the company either doesn’t really care or has a plan to deal with it.  I call this the “scout’s honor” model.  I don’t think it works unless you’re a very small business where everyone knows everyone else and there’s not too much work to be done, frankly.

Second, it assumes that everyone on the team is 100% equivalent in skill and efficiency such that the loss of one cog in the wheel is not a showstopper.  I would argue this is rarely the case – you’ll have situations where if Joe in the corner takes time off, everything goes downhill because he knows everything.

Today, you’ll have situations where a case worker, their supervisor, almost all their peers and the manager are all off just because of spring break.  So you can’t get things done for a whole week until they figure they’re done partying.   And the “file” is assigned to certain people, so the ones who are in the office (often with lower seniority) can’t help you.  That’s annoying.

I can see if you were to stagger days – so the workers might take Monday-Tuesday, the supervisor might take Wednesday-Thursday, and the manager might take only Friday, so there’s coverage for customers.  That’s not what they do.  It’s irritating.

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