Should Work and Annual Leave Be Combined?

The ‘age old’ question and one that ultimately comes down to personal choice!  But summing it all up in the first line hardly makes for a good blog read, so here are some considerations around the question:

“Should work & leave be combined?”

1.  What is the purpose of your leave?
This may sound silly, but are you going to take some time off because you’re due at a conference in the Bahamas and thought that you would tie in a bit of RnR?  Or are you stressed out at work and looking to take a break so that you can remember what your husband/wife and kids look like?  If it’s the latter – then the answer is pretty self-explanatory:  Go on leave and LEAVE work at work!  Ideally you should be looking to unplug your computer, email and phone completely so that you can fully recharge.  And remember this:  whilst we all like to think that the world will come to a crashing halt without us sitting at our desk, the reality is that for a week or two (and probably a lot more), nobody will miss you and the world will keep on turning!  It’s also worth noting that you are far more likely to be more productive and more pleasant to be around once you’ve had a chance to fully recharge!

2.  Is it your business or are you working for someone else?
I guess this really comes down to expectations, but if it’s your business it is that much harder to get downtime and often it is extremely difficult to switch off everything unless you are fortunate enough to have someone back in the “office” to hold the fort.  That said, even business owners need a chance to unplug, unwind and recharge so it makes sense to take some proper “TIME OUT”.  If it is your own business, there are often tax and cost savings by being able to include part of the travel and accommodation on the company bill rather than your own personal bill, but in the long run – if it’s your company, it’s your money anyhow!  So you really need to weigh up what is going to give you the biggest bang for your bucks – saving a few dollars or recharging your batteries?   The call is yours…

As for employees – it is important to remember that you are entitled to time off and you are under no obligation to tie your personal life in to your professional life.  That said, as with all relationships – a bit of ‘give and take’ goes a long way and if a combined work/leave trip works for you (and your family) financially and it provides your employer with the result that they require, then everyone is happy.  Just remember though – generally the purpose of a HOLIDAY is just that – to have a HOLIDAY and that you taking time off to recharge and get away from the daily grind of work will more often than not, give you the energy, enthusiasm and clarity to come back to your job and kick some goals.  So don’t be afraid to (politely) tell your employer that you are unable to combine work and leave if you feel that you need a break.

3.  How does your family feel about you working whilst you’re away with them?
This is a tough one because we all too often lie to ourselves saying, “it’ll be ok, I’ve only got a couple of hours worth of work to do”, only to still be doing that work at 5pm that afternoon having started before breakfast and having missed lunch!  We also tend to say to our peers and bosses that our family doesn’t mind us working, knowing full well that they are completely and utterly over our extra workload.  If this is the case, then the reality of the matter is that for the sake of your sanity, your marriage, your family – make an effort to SEPARATE your work and leave commitments.  Make the time to spend quality time (ie.  being present in the moment) with those that you go on holiday with, because whilst the majority of us need a job to feed us, ALL of us need people around us – particular our family and particularly once we give up work!  You’re a long time dead, so why not make the most of being alive?

4.  Is the opportunity worth it?
What I mean by this is – if the offer to travel to exotic and interesting locations, paid for by your employer is something that you would otherwise never be able to do, then you’d be mad to miss the opportunity as traveling is a great way to open your mind, change your beliefs and grow your knowledge (not to mention, become more understanding of other races and cultures) – all of which will serve you well in your career.  Work-travel may also assist you with promotions and career development, so again the opportunity to grow in your role, earn more money or network in other markets has to be weighed up and there are no standard “right” or “wrongs” – you have to do what is best for you (and those around you) at the time and based on the information that you have at hand.  If career, work and income is the driving force at the time, then your decision will be based on that.  If family, relaxation and recharging is of more importance (at the time), then a holiday completely away from work is what’s in order.  Often it is just that – “time based” and other times it’s based on your motivations (which incidentally often change with time too)!

So I conclude as I began.  Ultimately it comes down to personal choice and circumstance!  Your decisions are just that – YOUR decisions.   Just make sure that you are making them with your eyes wide open!

Flexible Work Arrangements Attract Highly Skilled and Experienced Applicants!

When White Now placed an advert on and SEEK on behalf of a client looking for an Office Assistant 3 days per week, the client received 345 applications! The good news was that there was a large percentage of high calibre candidates which made the job of choosing a short list really tough, but ultimately led to a great result because it was such a strong field.

So why was this such a popular job?  Well, this client recognised that whilst work is an important part of life, people have other commitments and interests that are equally important and if all these things can be accommodated or balanced, they are going to have happy, committed employees!

Lots of employees enjoy working and WANT to work, but also have family commitments or interests they want to pursue. There is a HUGE market of ‘return to work’ Mums and Dads, semi-retirees, part time students etc that have valuable skills and experience, often at a much higher level, who still want to contribute to a workplace that they can enjoy and add value to.  Just not necessarily in a full time or 9am-5pm capacity.

How can you tap into this great resource?  Take a look at the roles that you have and think a bit ‘outside the square’ about the way work is done and how you can build flexibility into your workplace. Offer school hours or the flexibility to take time out during the day to attend school activities and make the time up later.  Can work be done remotely (from home) on some or all days, or after hours?  Ask an employee ‘how can we make this work for you?’ and negotiate a mutually suitable arrangement.   And don’t forget to ask yourself, “is job-sharing an option?”

Offering a flexible workplace can often open up the the job to a larger pool of higher calibre employees to chose from.  And often these employees come with a high level of commitment and and work performance because they have a great work/life balance.  Flexibility in the workplace can also be a great retention tool.  Offering your existing employees more flexibility maybe one reason that will keep them working for your organisation rather than them looking elsewhere.

Next time a vacancy comes up, take a different look at it:  how can you incorporate more flexibility and attract a whole new candidate pool?