Author Archives: Daniel Packer

Should Employees Feel Guilty About Taking Vacation Days?

In the past few weeks, I’ve heard a couple stories from friends who wanted to use some of their accrued vacation time, but ran into approval issues when it came to actually requesting the time off.

Two Vacation Requests

In one case, my friend wanted a single day off to attend to some personal business and was given a hard time about it. There was no specific reason given as to why the company didn’t want him to take off, but it was made clear to him that approving his vacation request was a favor.

Another friend requested time off to take a two week vacation with her husband. She had saved up her vacation for this big trip and had more than enough time to take off the two weeks, but was getting some resistance from her supervisor. A week would have been doable, but two weeks was too much. There was obviously nothing in the company rules prohibiting vacations longer than a week, it was simply inconvenient for the team to have to pick up the slack for that long.

When Rejecting Vacation Requests Is OK

There are certain situations where it’s reasonable for an employer to deny a vacation request. If there is not enough notice, it can cause short-term issues. If others have requested off at the same time, there are staffing issues to consider. There have to be the right number of people to handle the workload, and if everyone takes off Christmas week, there might not be enough people left to handle the customer inquiries.

Why Most Vacation Requests Should Be Approved

Other than some specific situations, I think it’s ridiculous not to allow employees to use their vacation time. Whether they want to use one day each month or take 2 weeks off at once should be the employee’s decision to make. Especially if it’s done with enough lead time, people can make adjustments. Having an employee out of work is not going to make it easier, but just like employees need to make changes based on employer needs, companies need to adjust to their employee’s commitments. The employee made an adjustment and didn’t take any time off for an extended period of time, the employee has the right to take his accrued vacation time in a way that fits his schedule.

If you can’t take a vacation day without feeling guilty, where’s the trade-off? Employees work for their employers, and return get certain benefits, including vacation days. There shouldn’t be much negotiation about when they’re allowed to be taken or for how long. The way I think about it is if you’re the employer, if you request time off, maybe the employee will simply leave the company? In that case, the employer is usually responsible for paying the employee for the time off, and in the end, they’ll be left without a full trained employee, so it’s a very big risk to reject these types of requests

The Unintended Consequence of Denying Vacation Time

Not allowing employees to use vacation time they’ve accrued probably has an unintended consequence: more sick days. If an employer isn’t allowing employees to take vacation time, they’re probably more likely to have an unannounced day off. Think about it: if you ask for time off and they deny you, you have no other options. But if you don’t ask and are “sick” that day, you can’t really get in trouble, right? I’m glad I’m not in that position, but I wonder if it happens.

Have you ever had a hard time taking vacation time you accrued fairly?

6 Ways Social Work Can Improve Your PR

Making a career change is a big step. There are a number of things you have to consider, including what you are interested in, what skills you possess, and where your skills and interests can help you move forward. Deciding on a new career can mean going back to school, and dealing with challenges that you’ve not anticipated. However, some career moves, such as from public relations to social work can help you do better in both.

1. Improved Listening Skills

When you’re in public relations, you need to be able to listen to your customers and understand what they need. However, listening becomes a crucial skill when you’re working with people in the social work sphere. When you’re working toward a degree in social work, you’ll work toward improving your listening skills to understand the underlying issues in the family dynamic and more. Your improved listening skills will also help you if you go back to public relations, as you’ll be able to make better connections with your clients.

2. Gathering Information

In addition to actually listening to people, an important part of both of these jobs is pulling together information. Gathering information can help you figure out problems with clients in both fields. In social work, you’re going to be dealing with people who may not want to give you the information you need. In public relations, this may also be the case, however more often you’ll be dealing with clients who may not know what they want. When you are able to gather information that isn’t being given readily, you’ll improve your standing in both fields.

3. Building Trust Effectively

When you’re working in public relations, you need people to respect and trust you. If the clients you are working with don’t trust you, you’re not going to get anywhere with them. Because of this, building trust with clients is important. It is also an important skill in social work. When you change careers to social work, you’ll find that your skills that help build trust in others will improve. These skills make all the difference in your interactions with families and people in the community. Learning to build trust is something that will help both career paths significantly.

4. Polished Writing

As a public relations specialist, you know that you have to be able to write well. This is a large part of how both you and your client are seen by the world. However, many people don’t realize that this is also a skill that must be cultivated by those in the social work sphere as well. When you move to social work, you’re writing is going to change. However, this will give you a different perspective on well-written, polished work. You’ll need to write reports, keep notes, and more. In addition, it will need to be well-organized. These skills will help you further your career in public relations if you ever go back.

5. Keep Focused

Sometimes in the office it seems like everyone is clamoring for your attention, all at the same time. When you’re doing social work, you feel like this both in the office and in the field. You need to be able to stay focused on the task at hand, to be able to help families and communities. Learning the focus of a social worker will help you in public relations, as you’ll be able to keep focusing on one problem or one client at a time.

6. Go With the Flow

Things happen fast when you’re in public relations. In fact, those in PR may look at other jobs and feel like it would be too slow or boring. This is not the case when it comes to social work. Social workers need to be able to go with the flow and manage changes just as quickly and effectively as those in PR.

There are a lot of aspects of both social work and public relations that can help you further your career in the other field. If you’re currently in public relations, but looking for a change, consider looking into social work.

2014 First Quarter Business and Personal Finance Goals Update

I changed my goals for 2014, going with 3 goals that keep us accountable both on a personal and business level. With 3 months gone, it’s time to check in on my progress.

As always, I am leaving out steps on the way to achieving my goals (like fully funding out Roth IRAs and contributing to 401(k)s) because they would have simply been checkboxes. I don’t believe in setting goals that are more of a given than anything else. It’s not impressive to make a long list of achievable goals and when you accomplish 18 out of 20, to claim that 90% were completed when really those last 2 were the most important.

1. Grow My Blog Carnival Submission Service To Over $500/Month

This has been fairly stagnant and I haven’t put much effort into growing the service the last few months, but I have streamlined the process so it takes up less time and effort. It’s a good start, but now it’s time to be better at networking with newer bloggers to build a relationship and see if they can use my services. Even getting one new blogger to sign up each month would be a great, and the amount of work to get one person to sign up seems like it should be very reasonable.

2. Create At Least Two New Streams Of Income That Bring In $100 Per Month.

At the beginning of the year, I said I had an idea for one of these income streams, and in March, I’ve achieved that mark. With a friend, we buy some items in bulk and resell them individually for more on eBay. It’s worked out very well so far, and we’re looking for other opportunities to grow this.

I have no plan for the second income stream, but I suppose it’s early? Maybe SeriousBabies.com will take off?

3. Keep Discretionary Spending to 105% of 2013 Levels

Year over year spend decreased 2.6% for those first 3 months. Would have been very positive, but I removed a tuition payment from the equation. Last year we prepaid Spring tuition in December 2012, this year we paid it in January, so we did spend a lot more, but it would be very misleading and that represents nearly a 100% increase.

A few caveats: Our new car is not included in this calculation (we decided to pay it off over 5 years instead of paying in cash). Our typical grocery bill, insurance, charity, student loan payments, rent, and utilities won’t count toward this goal, but everything else does. We want to see if we can keep our discretionary spending in check, because that’s all we can really control.

I’m pretty excited that we actually reduced out discretionary spending the first three months. I assumed we spent more this year especially since I just booked a trip to the East coast for us, which was not cheap.

Of course, we still have at least 2 other trips we’ll have to pay for, including at least one international trip for a friend’s wedding. So we’ll see if we can keep it up, but it’s definitely a good start.

Rating Our Progress So Far

I could not be much happier with our current performance, especially on the personal front. On the business side of things, there is definitely work left to be done, but I’m definitely in a position where I can succeed, which is what I’m looking for after the first quarter.

How are you doing on your goals so far? Where are you succeeding?