My Performance Review

2008 was a tough year for lots of companies - mine included. So when the edict came down that there would be no raises given this year, I was bummed but not surprised. Still, I tried to look on the bright side - at least they didn't hand me a pay cut.

This news came along side other "benefits adjustments". Yeah, when you see that phrase on slide one of a powerpoint deck, you know it's not going to be good. The 401k took some hits. Several programs got cut. Basically money would not be so free-flowing around campus. The carrot that they dangled was that bonuses were yet undetermined.

So with my review approaching, I formed a plan:

  1. The company’s performance is not my own, so I expect a fair performance rating regardless of the company’s ability to compensate. It may be possible to leverage that next year assuming that things improve by then.
  2. No money for raises - fine, I get that - so give me what you can. I’m planning to ask for an increase in vacation time.
  3. Continue to work my butt off, and pray that there are better times ahead of us all.
They had replaced some 401k cash contributions with company stock. No matter how you feel about that, the root idea was, "we don't have the cash, but we'll give what we have". That's where my idea came to ask for added vacation time.

So the time came. My manager and I sat down and he went into auto-pilot. I think I was one of his last to get their review, so he was getting used to delivering the bad news. Bonuses were reduced by 75%. I was expecting nothing, so this didn't hit me too hard. We went through the 'official' review and compensation statement, and then I hit back.

"The company isn't giving pay increases this year, and I understand that. Since I have a strong review (and I did), what I'd like to know is if I can get increased vacation time instead." He looked perplexed, though I could tell he liked the idea. Once I explained my reasoning, he was nodding his head and making notes. This was a good sign.

Unfortunately, our HR rep was out of town at the time, and the request would have to wait. I could tell that this request was unexpected, which meant that the goofballs in HR would have to stew about this for a while. Our Generalist would have to pass it up to a Specialist, and then maybe on to a Grand Pooh-Bah or something like that. I'll let you know.


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