AnnaMarie Houlis via Fairygodboss
We all know how valuable that coveted paid time off is — it helps you recharge by giving you time to relax, spend some days with your friends and family, travel, focus on your mental or physical health and take care of all the things that have been on your to-do list for way too long. Taking your paid time off can make sure that you’re rejuvenated before coming back to the office, so you better avoid burnout and, ultimately, produce your best work.
But what happens if you find out that your coworkers are getting more PTO than you? That feels unfair, doesn’t it?
That’s what happened to an anonymous FGB’er who recently asked the Fairygodboss community board what they think she should do.
“My company is giving out extra weeks of vacation to some of their new hires,” she writes. “I’m a recruiter at my company, and I see all the offers that go out. There are a large number of offers that include a third week of vacation to candidates at the same level as me professionally, whereas everyone else gets only two weeks until the beginning of their third year at the company, regardless of their level. It’s excruciating to see people be given an extra week off just by asking for it. I want to ask my bosses boss (the head of HR) if I can get a third week of vacation, too, but I feel it’s too presumptuous to ask.”
She adds that the company is “nowhere close to changing their time-off benefits anytime soon,” and asks other FGB’ers how they’d handle the situation. Here’s what they have to say.
1. Ask your boss to chat about a related topic, and then bring up your questions on PTO, too.
“My suggestion would be to ask for a few quiet minutes on this topic and just ask,” says Vivi-Lou. “I know it is hard to actually do it, but I usually use a generic but similar topic as ‘bait’ or an introduction and then the final topic change will be easy. You already have the advantage to know asking works from those offers. However, I would not advise mentioning those offers directly as this would make the topic of this talk about others when it should be about you.”
2. Make a sound business case for why you deserve extra PTO, too.
“I negotiated an extra week of vacation at my time of hire — I knew that there was not much room to move on salary, so instead of fighting for an extra 18% in salary like my target was, I chose to negotiate on the ‘extras,'” says an anonymous FGB’er. “The company got off on the good side of that ask, as an extra week of vacation is a 2% increase on their original offer. If you want to try to ask for this, don’t go into it with, ‘Well other people get it, and I don’t like seeing that I don’t get it, too.’ Make a business case for it. Look up some of the studies that clearly show that time away from work makes for happier, more productive, workers.”
She adds that, if you typically get a 3% raise every year, would you be happy to get a 1.5% or 2% raise per year in gaining the extra week of paid vacation? You have to consider leveraging all possibilities to possibly get the outcome you’re seeking.
“I know it’s hard, but try not to look at it as the company ‘giving out’ extra weeks just because people asked for it,” she goes on. “The people who got it likely negotiated for them and made other concessions in what they wanted from the company to get it.”
FGB’er Lynne Cogan agrees.
“Most career coaches will suggest that when a employer’s salary offer is insufficient that job applicants request other benefits/perks instead — often, employers can afford these more readily, and vacation is one possibility, as are gym memberships, daycare, a car allowance, etc.,” she says. “So those who asked for and received an extra week of vacation were doing exactly what they were supposed to do.”
She adds that you should “pay special heed to making a case for it,” too.
“Show how you have earned it by going above and beyond at your job and by how you increased the company’s bottom line by making or saving them money,” she explains. “That could be by bringing them candidates who turned out to be great employees who increased the bottom line.”
3. Negotiate for that extra time off in your next performance review.
“I’ve also negotiated for an extra week of vacation — I loved the company where I interviewed, but when they told me they only gave out two weeks of vacation, I said that I wanted an extra week as currently I was already getting three and, luckily, they agreed,” says an anonymous FGB’er. “The first job I got after college, I didn’t negotiate and got screwed, but I learned my lesson. Negotiate. Negotiate. Negotiate. At your yearly review, ask. Show your job performance and make a business case for it.”
Negotiation is key.
“If extra vacation is important to you, and you are a valuable asset to your organization then, perhaps, when it is time for your next compensation review, you could negotiate with your boss for additional vacation time to be included as part of your compensation increase,” says Wendy Rolon.
Most FGB’ers who are chiming in on the discussion agree that a performance review is the perfect time to ask for this kind of perk.
4. Remember that extra vacation time is often an easier ask than money.
“Now that you know the window is open, prepare your own business case and use it as the basis for a request,” adds Marne Platt. “You might be surprised — in some companies, giving vacation time to keep a valued employee happy is far easier than giving money.”
Another anonymous FGB’er adds that, “in an extremely competitive job market, sometimes the ONLY negotiation chip is vacation.”
5. Get yourself another job offer to convince your current company an ultimatum.
“As a last resort, you could look for another job and, if you have an offer on the table you could let your boss know you really want to stay, but what you’re being offered is hard to pass up,” says JobSeeker836. “It’s more expensive to train someone new than it is to keep someone who’s contributing to your company’s success, so that might work.”
A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, the largest career community that helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards and career advice.
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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.