Regardless of how much paid time off (PTO) a company gives employees, workers fail to take about one-quarter of their annual allotment. Not only can this make employees feel like they never get a break, but employers must shoulder the harmful effects of a tired workforce. Refreshed and recharged employees make for a better workplace environment and more effective workers—and encouraging PTO is the simplest way to achieve this.
Taking their time off benefits both employees and employers. But getting employees to take time off can present challenges. Here are some benefits of taking time off and tips to help you encourage employees to use their time off.
The Benefits of Taking Time off
When employees take time off, they return to work happier and refreshed. Happy employees make for more productive employees, increasing your profits. When employees use their PTO, they feel like their employer cares for their well-being, making them more loyal to your company.
Refreshed Employees are More Productive
Burnout can happen to anyone at any part of their life. It can affect their relationships, jobs, and emotional well-being. Taking time away and relaxing can give you perspective and help you return with a fresh attitude.
Encouraging PTO use prevents burnout by helping employees decompress and reduce their stress. Emphasizing the importance of PTO helps them stay refreshed and recharged, never reaching the point of burnout. Doing so benefits your company by keeping your employees in a happy, healthy mindset, making them more productive and engaged.
Good PTO Policies Attract Better Talent
Workers today are looking for balance in all areas of their lives. They want a fulfilling job that isn't the sole focus of their life.
A best-in-class PTO policy can help you attract the best talent in your industry and give your company a competitive advantage. Encouraging employees to take time off demonstrates your focus on employee well-being, something today's workforce greatly values.
Advertising your stellar PTO policy in your job postings and through word of mouth can give you a leg up on your competitors and may even help you attract talent from them and other areas of the country. You could also use it as a negotiating point when onboarding talent if you cannot increase wages beyond a certain point. Many great workers, especially younger workers, value flexibility within a stable position beyond higher salaries.
Creativity Increases from Getting Time Away
Have you ever been so focused on a task that you seemingly can't even see straight? Have you ever taken just a few minutes to get up and go for a short walk? Have you noticed that you can see the project more clearly when you sit back down to work? There's actual science behind the "let's sleep on it" cliche. You don't have to be focusing on a project or task for your mind to be working on it actively, and stepping away from it can provide the perspective and clarity necessary to solve the issue.
The same is true for vacation and time away from work. When employees leave for a week, their mind is still working on essential items, even in the background. It helps people resolve demanding projects while giving them time to relax, helping your company by getting projects across the finish line. All you need to do is give your employees the chance to get away.
Improves Engagement and Retention
Keeping your employees engaged is hard enough during regular times, and engaging employees during tumultuous times poses even more challenges. People often re-evaluate their priorities during major life events. Whether it's a chaotic time for a single employee or the entire world, workers can lose focus and end up disengaged, unproductive, and more likely to leave your company.
By giving employees a good PTO policy and encouraging them to use it, they get time to feel refreshed and come back ready to solve problems. They are also more likely to stick around, saving you time, money, and headaches associated with hiring new employees.
Tips to Encourage Employees to Use Their PTO
Creating a good PTO policy is only one step since having a good policy does not get people to use that policy. Leading by example and emphasizing PTO use consistently encourages more people to take time off. Owners and managers also deserve to take time off, and when they do, they must go fully offline. They must set the example for other employees to fully disconnect from their jobs when using PTO.
Openly Communicate What Time Off is Available
Building your PTO policy is essential, but you also need to ensure employees know what they have available to use. Whether you offer a flat amount of PTO or offer additional time off based on years of service, make sure employees know how much time they must use, when they need to use it, and if any carries over to following years.
Giving employees access to online HR software that is readily available is the simplest way to accomplish that. This software will calculate any changes with PTO usage and allow employees to file PTO requests through it. Streamlining the process makes it more likely for employees to use their vacation time.
Build Vacations into Your Culture
Encourage your employees to take vacations by taking them yourself and having company vacations. Whether you close for holidays or have summer Fridays, showing employees that they can feel refreshed by regularly taking vacations builds that concept into your culture.
Building it into your culture can be as simple as making it a more significant part of the discussion or normalizing it when people take their time off. Encouraging employees to plan during vacation seasons, such as summer or winter holidays, gets people thinking earlier about the time they're taking and permits them to use it.
Help Balance Workloads
One of the biggest reasons employees refuse to take time off is that they don't want to come back to work piled up. Thinking of the work they can't do while off is very demotivating, and putting in the extra work to be that far ahead isn't feasible.
To encourage vacation, part of your job is to make sure employees know that their essential work will be covered when they're gone. While you don't want to offset all of their work, it's helpful to let them know you can handle essential tasks. If that prevents them from having a mountain of work waiting for them, it's all the better.
Working together to ensure employees handle essential tasks in advance then delegating smaller tasks removes a lot of stress. That is particularly true when management or owners take time off. It's difficult for leadership to disconnect from work they're so entrenched in, but building processes to delegate and offset tasks while gone will benefit them in the longer term.
Develop a Sustainable PTO Policy with a PEO
You can build out your PTO policy and work to encourage employees to take time off, or you can partner with a trusted HR resource, such as a Professional Employer Organization or PEO. A PEO can positively impact your company culture by helping you develop a PTO policy that encourages time off. They have the expertise to help you quickly create systems that improve employee performance and engagement while helping you save costs by maintaining compliance or efficient processes.