How to Ask Your Boss for More Vacation Time

Next to a pay raise, more vacation time is often top on employees’ lists of most desired workplace benefits. It’s easy to see why: More relaxation and downtime often makes employees happier, healthier, and more productive when they’re in the office. But how do you go about asking your boss for more vacation time?

time off

It must be said, the easiest time to negotiate for more days off is when you’ve just gotten a job offer and are in the middle of negotiating your overall compensation package. Salary, sick days, and vacation time are all usually discussed during this meeting, so this is an ideal time to speak up about how many paid days off you want to receive. But even if that ship has already sailed, there’s no reason not to bring up the issue with the higher ups. Read on for some tips before asking the big question.

Come prepared

Before you ever set foot in your boss’s office, be sure to do your homework. Just as you would when asking for a raise, you need to know what the norms are in terms of vacation time in your industry. Research how much vacation time is typically offered by other employers in your same field so you know whether or not you need to temper (or ramp up!) your expectations.

Choose the right time

Is the whole office stressed out because everyone is in the middle of a major project? Is your boss about to leave on a weeklong work trip? Then you’ll definitely want to hold off on having the vacation discussion until the situation calms down. Ideally, wait until your formal review (if you have one) to bring up the idea of getting more vacation days. It’s also a good idea to wait to ask until you’ve been at the company for at least a year. This way, your boss has a good sense of your work ability and ethic, which should (theoretically) act in your favor.

Start small

If you already get ten days of paid vacation per year, you’re not going to want to go into your boss’s office asking for thirty. It’s just not feasible. Instead, think about what you already get, what would make you happy, and—if there’s a large gap between the two—consider shooting for somewhere in the middle. If you start with a modest increase, the likelihood that your boss will say “yes” goes up.

Sell yourself

While having information about what competitors offer or the national average or the benefits of vacation on employee productivity can all be helpful, the issue ultimately comes down to selling the idea of you as a worker. What have you been doing in the office? What projects have you excelled at? What teams have you led? What have you done that deserves a reward of more vacation days?

Consider your relationship

What kind of comradery (if any) do you have with your boss? What kind of company culture do you work in? If your office is fairly relaxed and you have a friendly, honest relationship with your boss, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with sitting down with them and directly asking if you can have an addition X number of vacation days in recognition of the work you’ve put in over the years. If your office is more formal and you have a more distant relationship with your boss, you could instead approach it as more of a negotiation. For example, if you’re offered a certain percentage raise at your next performance review, you could ask to trade (or reduce) that raise for additional vacation days.

Luckily, companies are realizing more and more how important downtime is to their employees’ mental health. Just make sure you’re prepared (both before and after your vacation)—and that you get any changes to your vacation policy in writing. Then enjoy those extra days of relaxation. You earned it!

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