HAVE YOU CONSIDERED? : Give Me a Break

How can I tell if I’m giving enough of my time and energy to my work and to the rest of my life?

It’s not as easy as it sounds because the issues can be complex. Don’t give up, though. It’s well worth looking at your own situation and, if necessary, making some changes.
In business circles, people who get it wrong usually put too much emphasis on their working life at the expense of family and personal matters. They can end up paying high price in terms of relationship break ups or potentially serious illness.
There are many reasons why people get so out of tune with what matters most to them. When we are busy, for instance, we get an adrenalin buzz that can be addictive. We end up chasing that fix even when common sense says we don’t need to. Many business people have very strong desire to prove themselves. Others are simply chasing more dollars or too afraid of their slave driver boss to refuse to do additional work.
You need to get your head around what’s happening in your life. First up, go and have thorough health check. If nothing else, it should put your mind at ease.
Then sit down in quiet place with blank sheet of paper and list your goals and assess your priorities. This will help you see the bigger picture. Be prepared to listen as closely as possible to your inner voice. You may feel uncomfortable with what it tells you but there’s usually grain of truth in there somewhere.
You don’t mention whether or not you have young children. I’m guessing that you do because this often places an additional layer of stress on executives. Children often come along just as people are in the middle of establishing their careers. Although society is becoming more supportive, mothers often still have little choice about where they will allocate their focus.
Some fathers, however, feel they have to support the family financially at this time and many interpret the situation as making sure they are committed to their work. The end result is they don’t spend enough time with their children who need them as role model and someone who will listen and be supportive.
If this is your situation, you really do need to sort out better balance between the different parts of your life.


I know that from the start of April next year I have to give my employees four weeks annual paid holiday but what exactly do I have to do?

You’re talking about the Holidays Amendment Act 2004 which introduced number of changes to the statutory rules for holidays in this country. It covers, for example, public holidays, sick leave and bereavement leave. It also specified that on 1 April 2007 an employee would be entitled to not less than four weeks of paid annual holiday at the end of each completed 12 months of continuous employment. This is one week more than the current minimum entitlement of three weeks.
First of all, note that the Act specifies weeks and not days. This means that part-time employees who work three days per week are still entitled at the moment to be away from work for minimum of three weeks’ annual holiday even though they would only normally work nine days in that time.
Some employers who already give four weeks’ annual leave are concerned that the introduction of this additional week of minimum annual leave will mean they will have to now give five.
That is not the case. The Act refers to the employee receiving minimum of four weeks. If they already receive four weeks there is no reason why you have to give them an extra one.
However, the extra week will not be able to be ‘cashed in’ as is possible now. It is minimum entitlement and must be taken as holiday and not as money. Previously if an employer had chosen to give four weeks annual leave the one extra week could be cashed in if the employer agreed as the minimum was three weeks.
Start planning ahead now for this change. You will need to consider budgeting for the increased liability of the additional week next year. This planning will need to commence from each employee’s anniversary date after 1 April 2006 as they are then accruing their annual leave for the following year.
When the Government brought in these changes it was aiming to ensure employees receive adequate ‘rest and recreation’ and that New Zealand remain competitive with other similar countries in the world.
For employers such as yourself, however, if you don’t already give four weeks’ annual leave this is an additional cost to your business straight off the bottom line.

• Kevin Gaunt, FNZIM, FAIM, is CEO of NZIM Auckland and has been senior executive with, and consultant to, some of New Zealand’s largest companies.

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