LinkedIn recently posted a survey asking what is the biggest employee incentive. The tally after 20 votes was: Money, 35 percent; time off, 30 percent; travel to cool places on the company’s dime, 20 percent; other, 15 percent.
I don’t know what the final verdict will be, but I’m not surprised to see time off score so highly so far. As much as I love my job, that was one of my main reasons for going freelance. It reminded me of a funny incident when I was employed.
When I worked at the East Valley Tribune, one of the ways the company sought to reduce expenses – in addition to cutting our pay outright – was to offer voluntary furloughs. I raised my hand fast and high, hoping I could squeeze in a week off to spend time with my parents. They lived in Michigan, and we didn’t see each other often after I moved to Arizona.
My editor approved, and my parents planned the trip and bought plane tickets. But after all that, the “big boss” said no way. There was no particular reason for his decision that I know of. The corporate honchos had mandated this, and he was countering their directive. I could have taken it up the chain of command and caused a ruckus, but instead, my benevolent editor – bless her heart – told me to work ahead, file lots of stories, and put in occasional appearances at the office, and she would tell the boss I was out on assignment if he asked.
I got to spend quality time with my parents, and would see them just a handful of times after that. Dad passed away in 2007; mom followed him in 2009.
I’m generally honest to a fault, but I’m glad we lied. I’m forever grateful to my editor for pulling a fast one. I truly enjoyed my job at the Tribune, but I’m adamant that companies need to give people more time off to spend with their loved ones or for things they love doing, besides work.