Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Cost of a Nice Vacation

If you talk to your colleagues at Penn State and mention the mimimal raises over the past few years, you won't get a debate.

Raises at Penn State have categorically not kept up with inflation. Last year's two percent average raise was well below the pace of inflation. Compared to other industries, the raises are creating a larger disparity between what outside industries pay and what a Penn Stater earns. To make it harder to swallow, the low raises come in the midst of huge, billion-dollar building projects and increases in fees for the privelige of working at Penn State--like a 10 percent hike in parking fees to park at lots conveniently located a mile a way from your building.

If you mention the raises... or lack thereof... to your co-workers or leadership what you will get is excuses.

The first excuse is "but you get so much vacation time!"

The vacation time at Penn State is outstanding: about six weeks. Then there's 12 days sick leave. And a great Christmas break.

On the other hand, this quality of life benefit is being adopted by other companies. While most companies don't offer this much time out-of-the-gate, more and more are offering four weeks vacation, two weeks sick and personal leave, in addition to the standard holidays and a week off for the holidays, after the employee has been there for so many years.

So, essentially, we're talking about two-to-four weeks of vacation time. The question is, does that two-to-four weeks of salary equal the amount of extra money you would earn in other companies. Penn State usually lags anywhere between $4,000 and $12,000, depending on the position, based on anecdotal conversations with new hires.

Another factor that is slowly eroding this time off is the increased workload. Over the years, leadership and management has asked staff to become "more corporate." We look toward increasing efficiency and productivity, while trying to keep costs down. But, the workload has increased dramatically. More workers are skipping vacation; some still take their use-them-or-lose-them days, but they come back to an awaiting load of unfinished business.

Maybe this time-off is worth it. Maybe it's not. It's worth thinking about and it's worth checking.

No comments: