Most employees by the fall usually would have used most of their PTO on spring and summer trips, but with hardly anywhere to go with the COVID-19 pandemic, unused PTO has added up at many companies. Should employers encourage employees to take PTO?
By considering the impact on both your employees and your business, you can develop a strategy to address a surplus of unused vacation days that puts everyone in the best position in the future.
Your employees probably need a break. No matter your employees’ unique case, chances are they need a break. Time away from work is always necessary for employees to avoid burnout and bring the most productive energy to their work. During an incredibly stressful time, it’s even more important.
Here are four actions you can take that should help reduce the buildup of unused vacation days:
Lead by example.
Take days off yourself and encourage other managers in your company to do the same. If you rarely take a vacation, your employees will have a hard time believing it’s truly okay for them to do so. Share your plans with your employees and show the benefits of taking time by sharing pictures and stories when you get back to work.
You can oppose the “nowhere-to-go” mindset by creating and distributing a PTO guide full of:
- Day-trip ideas in your area
- Local volunteer opportunities
- Other local activities that may help employees:
- Get exercise or rest
- Spend time in nature
- Make meaningful connections with friends and family
- Enjoy music and the arts
Talk about PTO often.
When your team members use PTO, encourage them to share how they spent their time. Ask questions, show genuine interest, and avoid any joking remarks that may make using PTO seems like a negative (e.g., “Who approved that?”). Not only does this sharing help inspire more of your employees to use their time off, but it also becomes a team-building opportunity that strengthens social connections among your staff.
Give employees time to catch up.
It’s not very much fun to go on a vacation when it seems like everyone else is counting down the days until you return and respond to their messages. After your employees take PTO, tell them you know they have a lot to catch up on, and then give them the time and space they need to go through their missed calls and emails properly.
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