Asking the boss for leave to study can be stressful. Asking for study leave is more so since there’s no mandatory leave allowance for you to study. There’s no guarantee that the time you want to take off will suit the business for which you work, but remember, you are telling your boss that you want to be a better worker. The trick is to demonstrate HOW your temporary absence will improve job performance.
Here’s how to improve your chances of getting study leave:
1. Understanding Why you are Asking in the First Place
Have a clear notion of what you want to achieve while on study leave. Focus on how your education can benefit the business for which you work, and communicate these outcomes to your supervisors. Are you studying to be better qualified for a specific work task? Are you hoping to improve your leadership skills? Writing a list of goals to help visualise your path is a great way to reinforce what you’re hoping to achieve. Reinforce that taking study leave isn’t just doing you a favour – it will improve the business too.
2. Timing your Request
Every business has busy periods. In retail, it might be the weeks leading up to Christmas. Finance companies may have a bigger workload in the months before June 30. Be realistic and understand that you are far less likely to get approval to undertake study leaves when your boss needs ‘all hands on deck’.
Make sure that when you knock on the boss’ door to request study leave, it’s at a quiet time of the day. Often the first half of the day is better too. Your boss is far more likely to be receptive if there’s not quite as much on their plate.
3. Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail
Once you’ve flagged your wish to undertake study leave, make sure you put your request in writing. If you are granted time off, your company’s HR department will need a record of when you are leaving, and when you’ll be back. Ensure you put plans in place to best cover your absence. Suggesting certain responsibilities be delegated to who, will not only smooth the workflow while you’re away, it shows your supervisors that you are serious about your request, and willing to assist smoothing the process for the business. Also, consider offering to work additional hours in the weeks before your study leave if it will help your cause.
4. Target Study that what will Create Value for your Company
If you can, discuss with your supervisor before putting firm plans in place relating to what type of study you will undertake. What skills does the business value most highly? Are you able to choose a course to learn about these?
Consider preparing a five-minute presentation to show what you plan to do, how long it will take, and what tangible benefits it will bring to the business. Again, quantifying your planning to the people who’ll most likely approve your leave will put you in a strong bargaining position.
5. Negotiating an even Better Outcome
Assuming your application for study leave is approved, consider your next conversation – can the company assist with expenses? Reimbursement of educational expenses varies widely from workplace to workplace and flexibility is the key. Explain what you want to do, why, how it will help, and that you’re willing to meet ‘half way’ to achieve your goals.
There are not too many successful companies that want to stand in the way of their employees’ ambition. The trick is to prove how you can achieve it, with minimal disruption.
Remember that you are coming from a position of strength with any genuine application for study leave. Employers love ambitious workers and asking for time off to improve yourself is a great indicator that you are that type of person. The key is to communicate clearly what you want, why it’s a good thing for the business, and how your professional development will have widespread benefits far beyond your personal growth.
Keep clear in your mind why you are asking for study leave in the first place, and any reasonable boss will be prepared to consider your request.