Unlimited Vacation Policy? Thanks But No Thanks

I’ve seen more press than ever on unlimited vacation policy.  At first, this sounds wonderful.  Take all the time off that you want and answer to nobody, right?  Well, I don’t think it’s that easy.  Personally, I would hate an unlimited vacation policy.  However, I know that’s because of my personal situation.  I’m curious what you think.

What Is An Unlimited Vacation Policy?

Simply put, companies with an unlimited vacation policy don’t provide the standard time off allotments that we’ve all grown used to.  You’re allowed to take what you need.  However, there are things to keep in mind.

  • You have to fulfill your work obligations.  If you don’t get your work done because you’re taking too much time off, you’ll probably get pulled off the policy.  Or fired.
  • You have to have more awareness.  When you get an allotment of time off, the decision is made for you as to how much you can take.  When you don’t have that set, you have to become aware of how people in your company, or even your own work group, handle time off.  Say nobody takes more than three weeks off?  Well, that becomes the de facto standard.  It’s really only technically unlimited at that point.
  • You’ll get nervous.  At least I would.  If I take a lot of time off at one time, I get pretty nervous.  After all, if I’m able to be away for long periods of time, am I needed?  Maybe my boss would start to question that.
  • Calculating total compensation is more difficult.  Your paycheck is not truly how much ‘you make’.  You have to look at other benefits.  How much is your employer kicking in for insurance? 401(k) matching?  Everything plays a part, including your time off.  If you don’t have a set amount of time off, it becomes harder to quantify this.
Image from morguefile courtesy of jppi

Unlimited Vacation Would Suck For Me (At My Current Job)

Personally, I have no interest in unlimited vacation.  Thankfully I work for an organization that’s not exactly cutting edge, so I’m pretty sure this won’t work.  Now these are personal reasons but it shows that every situation is unique.

  • I get a lot of time off.  I’ve been with my company for over 10 years.  I also hired in when they had an extremely generous time off policy.  New hires don’t get as much, but they haven’t cut ours.  Yet.  So, I get a lot of time off.
  • We’re encouraged to use it.  You’ve all seen the stories where people don’t use their time off.  That doesn’t happen here. Our organization wants us to use the time off.  That works for me!
  • Our time off translates to money.  We accrue time off where I work.  So every two weeks I get 1/26th of my annual time off added to my bank.  If I ever quit or am let go, I get paid out at my hourly rate. If I had no time off remaining, I’d get nothing.  But, what if I had banked a couple of weeks?  That’d be like an extra paycheck.  In other words, my time off holds real, actual value.  I don’t see any reason to give that up.

So, while unlimited vacation raises the eyebrows, I don’t think it’s all that spectacular.  However, I know that every situation is different.  And, since big companies like Netflix are doing it, there has to be something to it.  Right?

Readers, what do you think of an unlimited vacation policy?  Have you ever worked somewhere with such a policy?  Would you be in favor if your current employer put it in place?  I’d be curious as to your thoughts in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.

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8 Things My First High School Job Taught Me

These days it seems that the high school job isn’t as popular as it was. Between an increase in after school activities and more adults working in part time positions, high school jobs don’t seem to be as much of a norm as they were.  But they still exist.  I believe that they provide a tremendous experience.  I know it did for me.

My High School Job

I was lucky enough to work for family.  I got to work at a collectibles store owned and run by my uncle and aunt.  They opened their store right when the market on figurines and such were ramping up, and developed a reputation as one of the top collectible stores in the area.

I worked a lot of evenings (after school) and weekends.  They were closed on Sunday so I always had a day off.  In a store like that you do everything from unpacking boxes to working the registers to helping people find that just right item.

Now that I look back I realize that the experience really helped me in many ways.

8 Lessons Learned At My First High School Job

  1. Responsibility.  Having a job teaches you responsibility.  They depended on us to make sure things went well  I worked hard to earn and keep their confidence.
  2. Planning.  Getting a job was a big change.  But,learning to incorporate this into my life at that age made it easier down the line.
  3. Time Management. I learned to manage my schedule.  To this day, I

    rely on my calendar to tell me what is happening when.  Making sure I was able to honor all of my commitments when I got my job helped me.

  4. People Skills. The store was the type of business where you didn’t just ring up customers.  You had to work with them, ask questions, and really listen.  I learned valuable people and communications kills.
  5. Money.  I learned a lot from my parents, by good example, on excellent personal money habits.  But, when you work at a business you see things from a different perspective.  This is where I learned a lot about cash flow, basic accounting, credit, and such.
  6. Product Info.  The store sold a lot of items that customers got really excited about.  We had to stay on top of knowing what is new, what is hot, etc.  Many times people came in with no idea what they really wanted.  Knowing the product made sure that I could point them in the right direction.
  7. Relationships.  My uncle developed a lot of relationships.  He would often spend an hour chatting with someone, and they’d walk out empty handed.  Over time I learned that more often than not, they would come back and become regular customers.
  8. Working With Others.  There were a few of us that worked at the store.  Being able to work as part of a team is important, and for me, this started here.

What Is Your High School Job Experience?

Readers, I’m curious how your first high school job went.  Did you have one?  Was it something you enjoyed?  What lessons did you take that you still use today?  Let me know in the comments below.  Thanks for reading!

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Turn Your Industry Knowledge Into A Consultancy Business

When you’ve gained a lot of experience in a particular field, you may find yourself looking at companies and thinking, They aren’t doing things the best way. Then you probably have a good laugh at your own arrogance, thinking how unlikely it is that they’ll ever ask your opinion about it.  Maybe you should stop laughing and consider turning your industry knowledge into a consultancy business.

It may not be as unlikely as you think. Many of the decisions made by businesses and government are driven by the input of consultants. These mysterious people swoop in, dig through the entity’s operations, and then provide a report on what’s going right, what’s going wrong, and how to go the right direction in the future.

Could that be you? Could you be one of those corporate mercenaries who come in and right the ship? It’s a possibility.

There’s a very distinct set of skills and experience that these consultants have, and only if you’ve achieved that level of proficiency will you have any chance of succeeding at telling others how to succeed.

Let’s look at some of the things you’ll need to do to establish a successful consulting firm.

Distance Management

As a one-man or one-woman show, you’ll need to be able to operate things from wherever you may be. When your clients want to pay, you need to be ready to accept their money. Make sure you have a method to accept online payment transactions while you go on about your normal business.

Most people report to work every day, usually in the same location where they reported yesterday and the day before, and countless hundreds of previous days. When you work as a consultant, you will be based at home, but your workplace will change as often as your clients change. You’ll be on the move for sure.

You will also need to be able to market. If you have a resume with a lengthy listing of former employers, you should start right away by re-connecting with co-workers and supervisors who know what you can do. Those people are likely to be scattered among dozens of new employers themselves, and they can give you inroads to a market without such an arduous process of soliciting business.

Loving Travel!

You may think that operating a home-based consulting firm will leave you snugly ensconced in your spare bedroom, gently sipping coffee while scrolling through email on your laptop.

That’s not the case. Consulting is a job that requires you to go to your clients and see what they do on a daily basis. If they’re in manufacturing, you need to see their fabrication and assembly processes to detect the shortfalls. If it’s a restaurant, you’ll want to view their kitchen layout and dining room configuration.

In short, you have to go to them, and that will require a lot of time in airplanes and hotels. You’ll bounce from one time zone to another, and you’ll miss school plays and birthdays back home. For many people, travel is exhilarating, but if that’s not you, you should consider other career options.

Great Communication Skills

Diplomacy has been defined as the ability to tell someone where to go in such a way that they look forward to the trip. Some of what you uncover about your clients may not make them happy. There may be inefficiencies, fundamental mistakes, or even theft going on.

Can you frame that to them in a way that doesn’t insult them? Remember that you need to give them what they are paying you to give them, but your networking will erode quickly if you are viewed as a hack who just wants to come in and create havoc.

You must be a communicator. You must be able to explain why certain problems must be addressed, both in person and in writing. Finally, you need to be able to document the reasons for your recommendations. In most cases, you had better prepare for a lot of “But we’ve always done it this way!”

Starting a consulting business can provide you with good income, great variability in your routine, and lots of independence. If your experience level is high enough to constitute expert status, this could be a great option for you.

Content contributed by a regular reader and fan of Money Beagle.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Why It Pays To Be Persistent

Here’s a quick lesson on why it pays to be persistent when asking for something.

Annual Conference

Last week, I attended a project management conference here in the Detroit area.  It’s held every year, and thousands of people attend as it gives required credits that are needed to maintain professional certification. My day is  filled with various speakers and presentations that discuss knowledge and trends in the profession.  It’s not the most exciting thing in the world.  Sometimes if you pick a poor speaker, can be an outright drag, but for once per year, it’s not a bad day.

I go just about every year as it satisfies about 40% of our yearly requirements in one day.

I got my project management certification while at my current job, so I’ve only attended the conference while working for my current employer.  One thing that has always been a constant is that, while we were given the OK to attend the conference on company time, they would not pay for the conference.

It’s not that much money, about $150-200 over the years, but it was still enough of a sum that it hurt a bit when writing the check.

The Same Answer

Every year, I would ask if the company would consider paying, and every year I would be told the same answer.

mb-201311mistakeN0.

Every year, until this year. I asked a few months ago and this time, the answer was ‘Yes’.

Awesome!

Now, I know that I was not the only one to ask, so while I’d like to take credit for it, I know that it is not my credit alone to take.  Still, I know that it was through the persistence of me and my colleagues that it ended up happening.

How To Be Persistent And Get What You Want

  1. Ask Politely. I would always make sure to ask my manager if they’d consider paying, and would always approach it in a way that was polite.
  2. State Your Case . I noticed that other IT groups, which were technology based, often had people attending training.  I pointed out that although we were more process oriented, our training was still beneficial to the organization
  3. State The Benefits. I’ve already pointed out the benefits to attending the conference: I get knowledge, continued certification, and a day off of work!  That’s great, but when presenting the benefits to my manager, I would talk about how this would help the organization.
  4. Understand Politics. Year after year, we’d be told ‘no’ and I never blamed my manager.   I understood that the decision came from higher above.
  5. Know When To Escalate (And When Not To). Since the decision as being made by people higher up than my boss, it’s tempting to go right to them.  In some cases, this might actually make sense, namely if you feel it’s your boss that’s torpedoing the process.  I knew that our boss was in 100% support.    In other words, she had it.  I didn’t want to go over her head.  She might think I didn’t trust her.  I also didn’t want to seem pushy.
  6. Allow Time. The conference was last week, but I had the initial conversation with my boss back in January.     If I’d waited until two weeks ago to ask, it likely would have been an automatic ‘no’.  But it wasn’t!
  7. Don’t Give Up – I’ve been asking for years.   I could have easily assumed that I knew the answer since it’d been the same every year before.  Things change, so keep asking.

Making It Work

The bottom line is to be persistent but to make sure not to be annoying or pushy.  It might take time and you might not ever get what you want, but it never hurts to ask.  After all, the worst that they can say is ‘no’, right?

Readers, have you ever had a ‘no’ become a ‘yes’?  Tell me about it and if you have any other tips to get what you want, in the comments below.  Thanks for reading!

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.