Why You Should Encourage Your Staff To Take PTO


June 30, 2022

To say the workforce has changed is an understatement, especially with the pandemic and Great Resignation still looming. And though we may all be still searching for talent and gearing up for face-to-face events, something that should always be priority to your association is your staffs personal time off (PTO).

Mental Health America states that “employers who offer PTO support the overall mental health of their staff, and employees who use PTO can help reduce burnout and increase productivity and creativity.”

In 2018, there were 768 million days that went unused which was a 9% increase from 2017. Don’t let this percentage increase, while also creating burnout – severe stress – for your team. Both personally and professionally, the risks to your association are real and costly.

“When we see a large balance, we reach out to those individuals and encourage them to take time off,” Multiview’s Director of Human Resources, Nancy Gallina-Narcis, said. “We feel that when employees take care of themselves, both mentally and physically, is a win-win for everyone.”

Burnout and mental health were primary concerns for employers globally, according to the WTW 2021 Global Emerging Trends survey, so if you’re not already encouraging PTO for your teams, consider the following:

  • Research has shown that employees' productivity increases when they’re working 35-50 hours a week -- depending on job structure and occupation – and doubles for vacations. When you have physical distance from a problem, you’re able to come up with more creative solutions.

  • Mansfield Clinic research showed that for women, taking vacation helps decrease depression and will increase marital satisfaction. For men, it was compared that for individuals who didn’t take a vacation in five years, they were more likely to experience coronary events than those who took a vacation every year.

  • If you’re consistently checking your email, you won’t be able to clear your mind from work. You need downtime and rest to be fresh and energized for the next day. Your vacation will do the same from your workplace. Taking at least a few days away from the office will help you become more energized when you return.
If the Great Resignation has taught us anything it’s that if a culture doesn’t make an employee feel valued then it’s all over, so encouraging your team to take vacation could help – and even save – employee retention. A common strategy that’s been used for this is to offer unlimited PTO, but according to the Society for Human Resource Management study, employees who don’t have a specific number of vacation days aren’t able to budget accordingly and sometimes take less than they normally would.

Instead, consider offering a specific budget whether accrued or lump-sum at the beginning of the year and use these strategies to help employees take the time off.

  •  Incentivize PTO: In 2020, employers introduced carryover limits to force employees to take time off. “A lot of employees carried over 5 days and what’s great about 2022 is that travel restrictions have been lifted and people are now taking longer vacation time,” Gallina-Narcis said. “For the most part, when employees are able to see how many PTO days they have, they schedule their time and ensure they are taking it sporadically throughout the year.”

    For associations that don’t take federal holidays, consider adding them to your calendar. If that’s not feasible, create company holidays to allow everyone to leave the office on a Monday/Friday of given months, which could encourage employees to take extra PTO during those days.
  • Open communication: Talk and listen to your employees to understand what they need to take time off. With your employees feeling heard and action being made, you’ll deliver improved productivity and engagement. Ensure that your employees can take time off, that their work will be covered and that they have a team to support them. In addition, many employees feel that they must justify why they’re taking PTO. Make sure they’re aware that a reason isn’t necessary. They earn the time to use for whatever they wish.

  • Lead by example: Are your leaders taking time off to demonstrate mental, physical, emotional, and social health as a priority? By sharing their experience with their teams, it will convey the necessity for others to do the same.

  • Set limits on tech: Work is important, yes, but there needs to be a limit. Showcase the ability to unplug when taking time off. Studies have shown that when employees take time off, over 60 percent still do some work. Help standardize out-of-office replies and utilize the team/tech support, so that they can truly unplug.

    “In Canada we have a mandatory policy about disconnecting. Working from home has people feel the need to continue to work, because they are not commuting to work. Once they’ve completed their duties for the day, the importance of shutting down and spending time with family and relaxing isn’t there,” Gallina-Narcis said. “In addition, I found that less people were taking PTO because they were working from home, but it’s not the same. I encouraged people to unplug and take time off for themselves because it’s just as import whether they’re working from the office or not.”

The current state is creating more urgency and more work, which is making your teams think they must focus more time on work instead of themselves. The statistics between taking time off, mental health improvements, and work performance outweigh all of that, so rise to the occasion by encouraging your staff to take time off. Trust me, you’ll reap the benefits in the end.




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