8 new year’s resolutions for employers

usnewsEmployers at this time of year might be hoping that their employees are making new year’s resolutions to set clearer goals, work more efficiently, or stop spending so much work time hanging out on Facebook. But what about new year’s resolutions for the employers themselves?

At U.S. News & World Report today, I’ve got eight resolutions for employers that could significantly improve both their workplaces and work products — including letting employees have their evenings and weekends back, distributing perks based on merit, and more.


{ 27 comments… read them below }

  1. Holly

    Re 2: don’t make your employees feel guilty for asking for time off by being all reluctant to give it – even if it’s just the hemming/hawking/long pausing/hmmm sort of reaction. I’m experiencing this currently…only been turned down once but all the emotional build up to getting a yes has lead to many days coming in sick as hell.

    1. Holly

      That’s why I don’t *ask* for time off, I state I am going to be taking X days off. You are entitled to your vacation and sick time, for a manager to hem and haw is just a power trip. I’m rather confused by your comment regarding coming in sick as hell…do you mean you have to ask for sick time and await a response? Hell, no. Call in sick or better yet, email in sick and stay home!

      1. Regina 2

        But what if you’re asking at a time like the holidays, when presumably lots of people want to take off? Or a busy season? I’ve never been at a culture where you could just state you were taking time off, even the ones that were 100% supportive of letting people take their vacation. You always have to ask.

        1. Sadsack

          I do not ask when I am sick. I state it and address if there’s anything important that will be impacted. As far as vacation time goes, I usually say that I am planning to take off whatever days.

        2. Menacia

          Hi Regina, yes, busy times and holidays are usually either first-come, first-served, or based on seniority, but I always state I plan to take time off, I don’t ask and then wait for someone to approve it. When you state your intentions you usually get a faster response (though the response could be no, at least you aren’t left wondering).

    2. Enginerd

      Give them enough notice and tell them you’re taking the days off (IE don’t come to your boss Friday afternoon and tell them you’re out next week). Usually a week or two in advance is more than sufficient but you may need to jump on it earlier during the holidays. Asking them for the days off gives them the option to say no, and most of the people I’ve worked for will opt to not give you the time off. If they really can’t be without you those days they’ll counter and tell you we really need you here or too many other people are taking that day off already, but put the burden on them to give you a reason you can’t take vacation that day, don’t give them the option to say no.

      1. Duncan

        But most places I’ve worked do say time off is at management discretion and must be approved, so to just inform my boss (or to have an employee inform me when I was a manager) would not be taken well. As a manager, I always tried to approve requests and was very flexible, but I had to work within my company’s parameters, too, and I couldn’t approve having a large percentage of the team off at the same time. School vacations and the holidays were always tough, so we advised people to get those requests in during a certain period so we could review them all at once and try to be as fair as possible if we couldn’t approve all requests.

        In essence, vacation time is not an entitlement and you do have to play by the company rules. If the company is too strict with it, though, then you may want to find a different job for a company that is more flexible.

        I don’t think anyone needs permission to use sick time, which is typically unplanned since nobody plans to get sick. Even if you use it for a planned reason, like for a medical appointment or to have a minor procedure, you typically don’t need permission for using it. There are usually notification procedures, but that’s not the same as a request process.

  2. Menacia

    I can’t stress enough the importance of being singled out and being given praise for a job well done (and a raise if possible). While I work on a team, we are not one person, we are each individuals with strengths and weaknesses that should be managed separately. My boss is famous for sending out blanket emails regarding policy and procedures because one person is not following them. My boss is also famous for using complimentary manipulation “You’re the *only* one I can possibly trust to do this project, and this project, oh, and that project..”. Um, if I’m the only one, out of the 5 of us, that you trust, there is a PROBLEM. I am determined that this year I will not be saddled with all the major projects (and have already stated the same to my boss). If someone cannot, or will not complete a project (without having to run to her every 5 minutes wringing their hands) then some serious decisions and changes will need to be made.

  3. Anonymous Educator

    I’m so glad to see #4 on the list. There seems to be far too much “Ask for a raise, employees” advice and not enough “Give you employees a raise, employers” advice out there. If you give it to only those who ask instead of those who merit it, you’ll be rewarding the squeaky wheel, much like a teacher rewarding a grade-grubber instead of a student who really delivered A-quality work.

  4. mina

    7 & 8 – how much better my life would be if my boss would simply put forth this effort. Instead of hiding in his office because that is easier.

    1. JM in England

      Have been in a similar position to you, mina. It’s certainly a sure-fire way to drain morale!

  5. Regina 2

    Realistically, what are some ways to get this message in front of your company when they could stand to implement every single one of these? I mean, we can suggest these things until we’re blue in the face, but unless there’s an immediate financial impact, I don’t think most employers would bother. They don’t even think they have a problem. The fact is, unless this message comes from the CEO at my company, it won’t be heard. Is there any way for a lowly working stiff to bring this up? It’s not supported by my immediate manager (I’ve tried), so that is not a path to get this message to go up.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      It depends to a large degree on on your standing and your role in the company. You’ve generally got to be well-positioned in those two areas for it to have an impact.

    2. ThursdaysGeek

      And related to that, I think my management is doing reasonably well, but this still would be a nice list for them. But, how do I get it to them? Email the link to my manager? That seems a little …I don’t know… not quite right.

  6. Anonymosity

    Re #1–yes. I’m worried about this at the moment–my boss is retiring and I spoke with my new boss yesterday, and she was all, I want you to help me rebuild this castle. She asked me to think about stuff over the weekend that we could do. Well, first, I’m basically a peon and she doesn’t get that (she was asking me about stuff I had done before, like have you ever approved vacation? No, because I’ve only ever been a receptionist before this, and that doesn’t happen on any planet I’m aware of. That’s a manager thing. And I’m not an executive assistant and don’t want to be one.) And second, I don’t think about my hourly job on the weekend. That’s my time.

    I’m really nervous that she will want me to spend all my time / stay late / be available constantly during this build. I have never worked with her and have no clue what she will want to do. All I know is that my entire job is changing. I hope it doesn’t change so much I have to start living at the office or taking it home with me.

    1. Menacia

      Hi there, I think you have to help your boss understand your role in the organization. Perhaps she’s too new to fully grasp the tasks that you perform, why you do them and how long they take, and how things would change should she start giving you many more tasks to perform. I don’t think there is anything wrong with you taking on some additional tasks, but only if they don’t interfere with your current position. Being a receptionist means you are first and foremost the meeter/greeter for the organization, and as such, you need to be available to do that, as well as answer the phones, take messages, etc. You may want to think about what you currently do, and the hours you do it to figure out if you have time, what tasks would fit in with your workload/lifestyle.

      1. Anonymosity

        Well I’m not a receptionist now–I used to be and that’s why I didn’t ever do anything like that, because in most offices I worked, only managers or supervisors handled them. We did go over my daily stuff and someone else will be handling my tracking (! noooo I like doing that!) but I can’t tell what she will want from me by our conversation yesterday. She’s not new to the company, just the department (replacing my manager).

        We are having a big meeting next month to go over stuff so maybe it will be more clear at that point. I’m hourly, also, so I’m guessing there won’t be a lot of overtime and I doubt the company will pay me the new exempt threshold for what I do. I think maybe I should make a chart or something.

    2. Case of the Mondays

      It sounds like if you wanted to advance, this is a good opportunity. You could end up in an office manager / receptionist hybrid (with a subsequent raise) if you play your cards right. This is, in a way, your chance to make your position what ever you want it to be. You should be honest, but open to new things. So “have you ever approved vacation?” “No, not previously, but I’d be willing to take on that role going forward if you would like.” Or, “I’d be interested in doing that; let’s talk about what my new position should be called and how it should be compensated.”

      1. Anonymosity

        I’m not a receptionist–I was one previously until I got this job. Wild horses couldn’t drag me back to the front desk.

        I’m cool with learning how to do more/different stuff, but I don’t want to be a manager at ALL. So I hope it’s more of a better departmental admin type thing and not glued to my boss 24-7 / supervisor things. I just like to do my job behind the scenes and then go home. Getting a new boss is scary because you never know if he/she will be the one to come bang on the side of your house at night!

  7. Bwmn

    For #1 and #2 I can not stress how important it is for managers/leadership to model taking off nights/weekends and vacation time.

    All of the messages in the world of “senior staff works more because of their compensation, you should feel ok to go home/shut down” just don’t seem sincere if it’s never modeled at higher levels. For all of those employees looking for better projects, promotions, greater responsibility – if what they’re watching is their manager sending emails at 8:30 am on a Saturday and commenting on *never* taking vacation or sick days, the likelihood of mirroring that behavior sky rockets.

    I think too often messages about taking time off ends up being sandwiched in between contradictory statements. I genuinely had a conversation with my organization director that started with “I’m concerned with you becoming burnt out and not taking off time” and finished with him saying “I’ve lived this entire year out of my suitcase traveling between sites and have only taken 1.5 vacation days”.

    1. Nerfmobile

      Yes, one of the things I appreciate about my current company is our sabbatical program, and more importantly how EVERYONE takes a sabbatical, even VPs and the CEO. We are eligible for a 6 week sabbatical after every 4 years of employment, and as a company with pretty long employee tenures that means that people are routinely going out on leaves. There are always some negotiations about exact scheduling in each case of course, but everyone gets used to the idea that people take big chunks of time off and the organization adjusts and things carry on. I think it makes it easier culturally to manage other long leaves (like for maternity) or other vacation planning as well.

  8. I'm a Little Teapot

    Yes, yes, yes, yes to all of these.

    Might I also add:

    Corollary to #2: actually offer everyone vacation and sick time in the first place. Yes, even low-ranking employees. They’re human beings with human needs, just like everyone else. And you’d never know it from this site (or most other career-related discourse online), but a very significant portion of the US population (including myself) has no PTO at all.


    1. The Sugar Plum Fairy

      I couldn’t agree more. My fiancé only has 5 days a year of combined PTO/sick time for his full-time job. He has been in his position for over a year. The first year, he didn’t get any days. And yes – he is looking for a better job with real benefits and decent time off.

  9. KS

    RE: #3 I work in technology and this is a MAJOR issue I face all of the time. I’ve brought this to my managers attention and he seems to think it’s not an issue or I’m being too ‘sensitive’. I work with men who are praised for saying the same thing I brought up in a meeting, only to be told I’m being to ‘Aggressive’. There needs to be a major overall in training managers on this issue. No one should be made to feel that their input is not valued.

    1. Camellia

      YES! When I and a new-to-the-team male coworker butted heads over something, guess who got called on the carpet for it? Yeah, good guess, it wasn’t him.

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