Welcome to the Lifestyle Asia HR Hot Seat. Every month, we sit down with a Human Resources professional to tackle some of your most burning work-life questions. For our inaugural episode, it’s all about those end-of-year concerns: your big fat bonus, setting boundaries with your boss while on vacation leave, and how to survive the company Christmas party.
911 office emergency! Have you ever been in a situation at work that you weren’t quite sure how to handle? Perhaps you’ve encountered a toxic co-worker that’s making you miserable, or perhaps you’re uncertain about bringing up a sensitive topic with your superior. For any and all of these work-life woes, we tracked down a wise and knowledgable HR professional to offer some sage career advice, the best practices for handling corporate situations in a professional manner, and where you stand within your legal rights in the workplace.
This month, our HR Hunk is tackling the awkwardness of the company Christmas party, the difficulty with getting laid off during the holidays, and that daunting ask for an end-of-year bonus. Find out how and why your boss is like Santa Claus, why social activities are networking gold, and when it’s okay to (finally) shut down that computer for the holidays.
We did the work so you don’t have to worry. Read on for December’s nuggets of workplace wisdom below.
HR Hot Seat: December bonuses, getting laid off, and attending the Christmas party
Dear Agony Aunt, December is already here. How do I bring up an end-of-year bonus with my boss?
End of year bonuses depend on the company’s performance and how well you achieved during the year. Hence, your boss is your Santa Claus – he or she definitely knows whether you were naughty or nice! Good news is, most companies have an end-of-year performance evaluation that serves as basis for bonuses, which is the best venue to discuss this. Check your company’s bonus policy with your HR and ensure that your performance discussion with your boss is set-up. Prepare a list of your achievements and challenges this year (best to include numbers to back you up) and discuss these with your action plans for a better next year. After your performance score is agreed, you may now ask about your bonus eligibility. However, be prepared for the worst if you know that the company did not do that well. I’m promoting a healthy performance discussion with your boss rather than being sneaky about getting info on the bonus. It’s because mastery of developing professional relationships and self-awareness matter more than getting a bonus. If you learn these, a progressive career with long-term professional perks are certainly on your horizon. While bonuses are great, you enjoy them only once a year.
Grinch Alert: How do I ask for time off if my company doesn’t celebrate Christmas?
Whether your company celebrates Christmas or not, you are entitled to take some time off provided that you and your boss have agreed on a plan to meet your deliverables before you go on vacation. Time-offs are company benefits that you are entitled to. However, like any work leave, you need to ensure that your deliverables are completed and you have a detailed hand-over plan to present before you go on vacation. I would always recommend that you request for Christmas time-off latest by October as most organisations wrap up by December.
It’s looking like a Blue Christmas for me. What are a few ways I can deal with getting laid off during the holidays?
This is unfortunate news if it happens. Make sure you are aware of your rights by asking your HR to present a document with severance payment details that the company owes you. Do not sign the termination letter yet if you have doubts. Best to speak to a lawyer who specialises in labour law. Once done, decide to move on. Update your CV and apply to jobs that interest you. Then create or update your LinkedIn profile to reflect your impressive career and request for recommendations from former bosses or colleagues. These testimonials will be visible on your LinkedIn profile and will help you stand out. Afterwards, there will be waiting time as you look forward to getting contacted by potential employers. But don’t let this moment stress you out. Use this time to do activities or go places you’ve been planning for a while but did not have the luxury of time. Sometimes, forced resets are blessings in disguise – they help you reflect on your capabilities and goals, spend more time with loved ones, and re-think personal values. On the bright side, companies get approval to hire more staff latest by January so there will be tons of options.
Real Talk: Is it ever okay to avoid the company Christmas party?
In principle, it is okay especially if you consistently meet your company’s expectations. However, you may miss out on having casual interactions with your colleagues and getting to know them on a more personal level. Being a team player is not just about your work performance but also being engaged in your work community. Your company organises these social activities because believe it or not, it helps each employee to become more successful. They say that your network is your net worth, right? No successful employee nor entrepreneur does not know the value of networking and hardwork, as these two go hand in hand. Getting to know your colleagues outside of work will then help you collaborate easily, and hence will be helpful to your individual success. That said, put your Santa hat on and enjoy the Christmas party.
My boss keeps messaging me during the holidays. How can I set healthy boundaries while I’m on vacation leave? #JingleAway
This is the perfect recipe for how to ruin someone’s holiday. But this can be avoided if you provide a hand-over document that contains all the information that may be helpful to your boss in your absence. However, you don’t just send this handover document but you need to set a meeting at least a week before you go on holiday to explain its content and check what you may have missed. During this discussion, be clear that you would like to have a time off to recharge and agree on few situations when your boss may contact you about work during the holidays. This way, you are showing that you are responsible enough to have prepared before you go on holiday. There’s no shame in asking for such healthy boundaries as reasonable bosses should respect what time-offs are for. Also, turn your out-of-office reply on before you shut your computer down the day before your holiday!