(SPOT.ph) Writer Olivia has not taken a real vacation leave in years. Her status may be "out of office" but endless work notifications on email MS Teams and Viber keep her from jumping into the water. When she should be recharging, she ends up squinting at her device for a video call.
When workers like Olivia find it hard to go on leave or are guilty for taking their VL credits, it doesn't help that some co-workers and bosses call them on their time off. Prefacing the message with "sorry" before interrupting personal time doesn't make it right. When the pandemic blurred the line between work and rest, up to the worker to reset that boundary for their own well-being.
Vacation leaves are your right
Before you even reach the point of burnout and you need to take a leave because you’re on the hospital bed, it’s best to avoid that outcome in the first place. Life coach Shuan De Joya said workers have to be proactive and not reactive—outline your boundaries and take steps to honor them instead of taking leaves because the lines dividing your life have eroded.
“That is really the challenge of employees these days; it’s creating boundaries between when is my time off and when is my time for work,” De Joya said, adding that the pandemic has eliminated the clear line between life and work.
“Eight to five is my work, anything beyond that is my personal time because I need to take care of myself. You cannot give what you don't have. If you don’t have time to yourself, what time are you giving to people?” he added.
Talk to your boss about work boundaries
Your boss might seem like an invincible force who never fails, but they’re just as stressed out as you are. Open a conversation with them.
“I believe that some bosses are reasonable. You can talk to them, you can explain to them your need as a human being, we are human beings. We're not robots,” de Joya said. “Have a conversation with them, set clear agreements on how and when you will work, you know, have that conversation clearly so that your expectations and your boss’ expectations are clear.”
Your boss is human too. Chances are high that your boss understands what you’re going through and is open to finding an arrangement that lets you take a breather so you can come back refreshed and inspired.
“When you are talking to your boss, you are able to find something in common, and that's gonna take time,” de Joya said. Still, effort should be put in trying to communicate. “It has to be relational, not transactional.”
Why some people refuse to go on leave
It's the non-stop corporate grind that creates the feeling that pausing would leave a person behind “[People] have a goal in their careers, you want to be able to achieve a lot of things. Getting promoted, getting a higher salary or just being acknowledged that you're doing something relevant and meaningful in the work that they do. The tendency of people is they would rather spend most of their time at work,” said life coach de Joya.
Olivia the writer explains her guilt whenever she goes on leave. “I feel like if I'm not working or if I'm just lying around, I have this guilt. I know in some level that's wrong, that I have every right to rest but when I do rest, I can't shake off that guilt. So it's an endless cycle of anxiety and guilt, like trying to relax but when you relax you feel anxious. Do I believe that it’s fair? No. But can I stop it? No."
Some people take it upon them to withhold their leaves for a lack of manpower, going with the company's work-to-death culture, or even unworthiness because they feel they've been underperforming.
Oftentimes, people also feel they can’t afford to take leaves because money needs to be made even on overtime.
“When they go on leave and when they return to work, there's a lot of work that needs to be done, they feel that being away from the work that they will just put so much stress back when they return,” de Joya said.
“During those times when they’re de-stressing they're still stressed because they think about the deliverables.”