Time Off

Why I don’t hesitate to take a personal day

May 5, 2022
min read

A little while ago in one of our weekly marketing meetings, our Director, Chris, told the team that by the end of the month, he wanted each of us to use one of our personal days – AKA when it made the most sense for us, we were encouraged to disconnect and recharge. 

Here’s the thing – we’re given unlimited paid personal days here at Humi. But still, not all of us on the marketing team were utilizing them. Why?

Speaking from personal experience, the thought of asking for time off made me feel weird. Regardless of how well-established my relationships were, if it wasn’t vacation, I felt plain bad asking. I needed to be pushed to have that day and since, my perspective has changed. I will now take this opportunity to tell you why you shouldn’t be afraid to ask!

Getting over feelings of guilt for taking time off

The thought of asking for a day off made me feel bad, it still does sometimes. As a person living with an invisible disability, my energy and pain levels are constantly fluctuating, procedures and appointments are ongoing, and there seems to always be a reason I could take time off. 

I guess I figured that if I was constantly pushing through these things, other reasons to take a day off felt mundane – that if I didn’t have an extreme reason, I was merely undeserving. And I never really checked myself on this either. 

It’s learned behaviour. I think a lot of us have been taught to constantly be on top of our game, to keep working and pushing through, even when we feel that fatigue. That our productivity is inherently tied to our value as an employee, and if we aren’t constantly outputting around the clock, it reflects poorly on our overall performance. But when we’re actively working toward the next thing and don’t take that time to rest and recharge, we risk burnout and we end up being less productive. It’s a vicious cycle. 

I’m not alone in this

At the tail end of 2021, we asked our social media community about time off and more specifically, how they felt asking for it. Surprise, surprise – discomfort was a common theme. 

Humi Twitter poll, “Never have I ever felt scared to ask my employer for a leave of absence”

And no matter how we flipped the question, we got similar results. 

Humi Twitter poll, “Would you feel comfortable asking your employer for a leave of absence?”

The more questions we asked, it seemed most people, like myself, would’ve rather powered through when they needed time off. And some even made up lies to “justify” a personal day due to their mental health (although, they wouldn’t dare call it a mental health day). 

Humi poll answers

Personal days vs sick days: explained

In Ontario, full- and part-time employees are entitled to up to three full days of job protected unpaid sick leave every calendar year, with the addition of infectious disease emergency leave because of certain reasons related to COVID-19.

But because there is no distinction between sick days and personal days under the Ontario government, most of us look at them the same way. That’s why it’s so important companies make the distinction. 

Personal days are time off taken at an employee’s discretion for reasons other than illness or vacation, to meet the needs of their private lives and individual schedules. At Humi, employees are entitled to unlimited paid personal days per calendar year for use, upon approval by management, in situations such as family emergencies, religious holidays, and mental health reasons, among others. 

Unlimited. Paid. And I was still over here battling this stigma!

How to spend your personal day

How you decide to spend your day off is entirely up to you, but I'm here to remind you that your personal days shouldn't be exclusive to important life events and appointments. I'm merely advocating for a relaxing day off and spending time doing what makes you happy so you can get back to work feeling well-rested and recharged. Whether that's sleeping in and spending the day watching your favourite TV show, doing a deep clean of your space, or taking yourself out on the town, I'm rooting for you.

Why it’s important we use our personal days 

Listen, I’m no mental health expert. But I, and you, we, know that pushing ourselves to the extreme never works out in the long run. So why do we do it? 

Chronic workplace stress is real. Burnout is real. And sometimes, life just happens. You shouldn’t feel guilty for living a life outside of work, because you are so much more than your career. 

Hustle culture is dangerous and it’s not realistic. Hustle culture is dangerous and it’s not realistic. Hard work is necessary, but overworking yourself to the point where you do not have a second to yourself is not. The notion that success is reliant on late nights and completing tasks outside working hours just to get ahead not only has the potential to brew dangerous mindsets and habits surrounding work – it can breed a toxic sense of competition among employees. Healthy competition can become fierce rivalries, and people go from motivating each other to do better to hustling harder to bring others down.

Leaders must do a better job of developing policies and building a culture where their people feel safe and comfortable, and are encouraged to prioritize their mental health and wellbeing. In the same vein, it’s your responsibility to check in with yourself and prioritize what you need to be healthy and productive in your workplace. 

And in case it wasn’t clear, this is your sign to take a personal day off. 

Getting started with Humi

For more information on how you and your team can spend less time on time off with Humi, click here!

Learn more with Humi

To dig into the different types of leave and your rights as an employee, check out our recent blog. We also partnered with My Friendly Lawyer not too long ago to help you navigate leave types at your business. Click to learn how to navigate employee leave types from Matthew Wise, an employment lawyer and Partner with Macdonald Sager Manis LLP, and get tips on implementing internal policies from Andrea Bartlett, Director of HR at Humi.

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