I just noticed that my son’s spring break dates next March are just two weeks before I plan to start my early retirement. An awkward time to take a week off of work I guess, but that won’t stop me from taking my vacation time accrued and enjoying a sunny trip to a warm weather destination.
Part of my motivation is to ‘protest’ the antiquated vacation & time off policies rigidity enforced at Megacorp that really irritates me. I’ve worked for three different companies in my career and in my opinion – my current Megacorp has the worst approach and culture around time off of any of the three.
It feels like they believe they are still managing a 1960s workforce — with employees, managers, directors, and executives tracking their vacation time, holiday or sick leave in an ancient software system. Each month there are calendar reminders (and reminders from the boss’s assistant) sent out for employees to dutifully log hours in the system. Previous Megacorps I’ve worked for respectfully expected salaried professionals to simply keep track of your own vacation time on the honor system. Adults treated like adults.
Although business management journals warn of a “crippling talent shortage across the world”“, and companies are increasingly competing for the best & brightest, our Megacorp even struggles with implementing limited basic workplace flexibility. The announcement of a new ‘flextime’ initiative saw many managers putting restrictions on the benefit or telling employees that it wasn’t supported in their group. Our VP was frustrated last year when people reported family & school conflicts for the strategic planning offsite he planned for Good Friday. Our SVP shared with me that he expects his team to be available for him “at all times” to show their commitment to the company. In fact, he frowned upon one of our top employees for taking two days off to travel to Los Angeles for an aging parent that was having surgery. The employee quit several months later.
At the same time, our HR professionals expect that the company should be on the Fortune “Best Places To Work” list. I’ve worked for a company on that list. To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, “Megacorp, you are not a ‘best place to work’. I’ve worked at ‘best places to work’ companies, and you sir, are not one of them.”
One of our peer companies, General Electric, has been doing a number of progressive things to better position themselves as an employer of choice. First, they did away with the concept of fixed vacation time completely. It sounds radical, but they now offer “unlimited vacation time” flexibility for many salaried employees. Their approach is, as long as you get your job done – you decide how and when you work. That sounds a lot like treating adults like adults, so it probably won’t catch on. Additionally, they have overhauled their performance review process and are saving over 80K hours of non-value added “administrivia”. I for one hope they succeed.
So, while taking a sunny spring break just a week before I plan to early retire from Megacorp might seem like odd timing, I will be happy to do it for no other reason than to make a point that my time will be mine. Not theirs, or their rules. Mine to do with, what I wish. Now and forever.
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