4 Ways to Encourage PTO Use

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Employee well-being is top of mind for most business owners today. The one-two punch of the pandemic and the increased number of resignations has exacerbated burnout. However, with many companies being short-staffed, employees do not feel like they can, or have the time, to take their earned paid time off (PTO).

According to Psychology Today, downtime creates alpha waves in the brain that are key to creative insights and innovative breakthroughs. When employees accumulate or hoard PTO hours, they do not have the downtime needed to reinvigorate themselves and their colleagues, which can have negative implications in the workplace. Employees who do not take their PTO can become less engaged, impact employee morale and increase business costs. Encouraging employees to take time off during a labor shortage is not counterintuitive. The time to recharge helps prevent burnout, improves safety and productivity and fosters a workplace culture that prioritizes employee well-being.

As the summer months quickly approach, employers should encourage their teams to use PTO by taking a top-down approach, communicating the importance of PTO and cultivating a rest-friendly environment throughout the year. Below are four tips for business leaders to help prevent PTO hoarding.

Encourage Rejuvenation

A well-rested and rejuvenated employee is a more engaged and productive employee, which benefits colleagues, clients and the company. It is important for leaders to encourage time and be intentional in stressing the importance of mental and physical health throughout the year. Leadership can develop creative ways to promote employees taking time off, which can help spread out PTO requests. For instance, employers can organize a platform to inspire employees to try something new, such as yoga, painting or learning to play a musical instrument. Through the platform, employees are motivated to share memorable, fun and meaningful moments from their time off. This virtual tool naturally builds employee connections and nurtures camaraderie with coworkers.

Train Management

Frontline managers are some of the most important people when it comes to employee well-being. As the name suggests, they should know how each employee is doing and be able to spot overwhelmed team members. Arming frontline managers with the tools and training they need to discuss PTO with employees is paramount. When managers know how to organize PTO requests, coach employees to prepare colleagues and clients for their absence and properly delegate workloads, employees are able to unplug while on vacation and it provides a smooth return-to-work experience.

Lead By Example

It is common for managers and supervisors to set their own well-being and PTO to the side. When leadership does not take PTO or talks openly about how they do not have the time to take PTO, the same attitude trickles down to their teams. Management reaps the same benefits from time off; therefore, they should prioritize their own health and inspire their teams to do the same. Leaders who use PTO have the opportunity to recharge, think more creatively and simply take a mental break from management. If management wants their teams to take time off, they must lead by example.

Distribute Reminders 

Companies should use all communication avenues to encourage workers to use their PTO, especially during stressful and challenging times. Employers can use an all-employee or departmental email reminder for employees to check their remaining PTO hours or post relevant information on the intranet weekly. Frequently discussing PTO during meetings, who will be out and how their work will be covered underlines the importance of taking time and normalizes the practice. This also helps prevent vacation shaming when PTO is talked about in an open environment.

PTO management is a year-round affair. Promoting rest and relaxation, managing PTO properly and modeling healthy time-off behavior encourages employees to use their PTO throughout the year, and it can help organizations develop a healthier culture overall, for their employees and their bottom line.

Fernanda Anzek is managing director, HR and DEI service operations with Insperity, a leading provider of human resources offering the most comprehensive suite of scalable HR solutions available in the marketplace. For more information about Insperity, call 800-465-3800 or visit www.insperity.com.

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