Opinions on 'How to choose Best for the Rest?'

An employee wants to attend her daughter's annual day function but her leave gets denied due to mounting workload. Should the employee get the leave or not?


Work-life balance is a common buzzwork in corporate circles and rightly so. Any progressive organisation will make it a point to impart as much of a balance as possible in the lives of their employees. To drive this agenda companies are adopting concepts such as flexible work, flexible hours, unlimited leaves in a year among others. all of them are commendable.

Now truth be told taking a leave is not an issue in progressive organisations. With managers understanding the needs of their employees better usually time off is granted without much difficulty. In a healthy culture, it often works on an understanding of who is going to cover a whose shift and the gesture is reciprocated for the person who does. On the other hand, when the workload is mounting and deadlines are close it can be tough to lose an employee for a day or even for a few hours.

In such situations employees might have to miss out on important personal events in their lives. This real test of work-life balance happens in such tough situations.

Consider a scenario. An employee wants a day off because she needs to attend her daughter's performance at an annual day function at her school. When she applies for the leave, it gets denied because deadlines are tight and the team is under pressure to deliver. As a result, she ends up missing her daughter's event.

Here, the worker ends up with a bitter taste of the corporate system. She might hold it against her manager for being unable to attend an important personal event. At the same time, the manager cannot afford to let go of an employee because she is feeling the pressure as well.

What should the manager have done? Let's find out what the leaders have to say.

 Milind Apte, SVP-HR, CEAT Tires limited

To my mind, a day off is not really necessary. What is important is that the organisation should ask the employee what is the necessity, how long the event will take and how much time does she need. Once this information has been shared clearly, the organisation should build flexibility around it. So if we are considering this scenario, annual day events such as these typically take around two or three hours. So the company can give the said amount of time off to the employee so that she can attend the function. Along with that, she can be given the option of working from home for the rest of the day to save time on the commute. This way the personal life of the person is covered, the work deliverables are received on time and nobody feels wronged. Flexibility in such cases is very important. When complete flexibility is given employees are able to manage their personal and professional time flawlessly and without any stress. Moreover, there is an element of trust here. If there is a trust-based system at the workplace, then there should not be any problem with time off for any employee. Usually, organisations lack trust in the employee and focus on working according to a strict system in place. When that happens employees will always be focused on bypassing or escaping the system altogether. In either case, it is not productive. The primary concern of any organisation should remain output and productivity. Employees today and especially today's generation are in no mood to cheat. They actually want to do work and prove their mettle. The key is to place your trust in the employees. Once that happens, everything else is easily doable. 

Naresh Kumar, CHRO, Spencer's Retail limited

There are two points of view in this dilemma. We have today moved away from the traditional approach of granting leaves where taking a day off was not a matter of right. Today, if a manager is not able to accommodate such kinds of leaves there the mood of the employee, will be a highly dissatisfied one. At the outset, the manager will have to understand why there is a need of taking a leave. Nowadays most families are nuclear. With only one or two kids, parents want to be present during every occasion in their children's lives. Missing out on such events is a very emotional thing for a parent. Therefore the policies in organisations need to be designed which can accomodate this contemporary need. Only then can the employees be satisfied with the organisation. As for the work, managers need to be able to manage such work exigencies appropriately by adjusting for the employee wherever possible. If any adjustment is not possible then it falls upon the manager to explain the urgency at work. If a clear discussion happens then the employee can take the decision after understanding the situation at hand. So really there are only two ways of going about it. Either you grant the leave or you explain why it is not possible. Moreover, the new generation is not tolerant of such traditional processes. They want a more flexible way of working.

Rajeev Singh, CHRO, Alliance Tires Group

It might not be conclusive to say who is right or who is wrong. If the employee in question had made some kind of contingency plan to stick to her deliverables so that she could go and attend her daughter's dance at her annual day function, then I feel it would be wrong to deny her that leave. This is looking at it from the perspective of the manager. Now from the employee's side, she should have planned her leave in a way that causes no one else to get affected by it. Such events are usually known at least a month or two weeks in advance. So she could have talked to her peers about it, made a plan so that work does not get hampered. Doing that will give an assurance to her manager that her deliverables are taken care of and she can go to her event. At the end it is matter of understanding between the employee and the employer. The manager needs to have that trust in her that she will deliver on her part even when she is taking some time off. Likewise, it also falls upon the employee to build that trust in the manager. Ideally, a conversation should happen between the two and a schedule or sorts can be fixed. In the end, it is the trust which makes things easier.



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