Q&A: How can unfair vacation policy be fixed?
By Marie G. McIntyre / McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Q: In our company, most people get away with taking much more vacation than they should. These employees have bosses who allow them to keep their own records, while the rest of us work for managers who monitor our use of leave. As a result, we get less time off than everyone else.
Although policy states that leave requests must be approved, most managers simply put their employees on the honor system. Unfortunately, a lot of these people aren’t very honorable. One guy from another department took off an entire week to move and never recorded it. But when my co-worker moved, she had to use vacation time.
Our boss agrees that this situation is unfair. However, she doesn’t want to break the rules, and she has no power to change the behavior of her peers. Human resources would normally be expected to enforce the leave policy, but our HR manager has his own employees on the honor system. What can be done about this?
A: Through either naivety or laziness, these misguided managers have mistakenly chosen to rely on trust in an area where oversight is required. Whenever something of value goes unsupervised, ethically challenged people will always be tempted to cheat. This applies to cash, vacation time, or a basket of candy left on the porch for Halloween.
Since this problem can only be resolved by top management, you will need to raise awareness at the executive level. Under normal circumstances, human resources would be your natural ally. But since that option is out, perhaps your boss can convince other compliant managers to become advocates for enforcing the policy.
While fairness is undeniably important, nothing grabs the attention of executives like focusing on financials. For that reason, policy supporters should clearly demonstrate how much all this free leave time is costing the company.
Once management sees the price tag, the honor system may quickly become a thing of the past.
Submit questions to Marie G. McIntyre at yourofficecoach.com.