Taking time off is something many people will avoid when job security is at the forefront of someone’s mind. As a leader or HR professional, navigating how to go about asking employees to use their paid-time-off during these times can be a challenging task.
How can you encourage employees to take vacation days? We asked nine thought leaders to share their best advice on how to encourage employees to take some well-deserved time off.
Change the Way PTO is Discussed in Your Office
The way that vacation and PTO are talked about at your company is going to make a huge difference in people taking time off. If there is a negative narrative presented from either HR or management, employees will be fearful of requesting any time off. Company culture has to promote self-care and wellness for the employees. Leaders can show employees they value this by taking time off themselves. Employees need to feel that their organization understands work-life balance and that they are encouraged to take time away from the office. We showcase this by offering our employees unlimited PTO.
Zack McCarty, Qwick
Mandatory Company Day Off
The best approach is a mandatory vacation set at a company-wide level. Select a Friday on the calendar and announce that the company will be giving everyone a paid day off. This power move does two things: One, it communicates that taking a vacation is okay and two, it reinforces that your company prioritizes employee wellness. With people understandably fearful about their employment, employers need to set up and give people the mental break they need.
Brett Farmiloe, Markitors
Encourage it as Time Spent with Family
The pandemic has affected many people. It has taken jobs, businesses and human lives. People will be scared and caring about their health and source of income. That is why I would encourage employees to take days off by recommending they spend time with their families. It doesn't have to be outside their home, where they can get infected, but within the boundaries of their home where they can bond with one another. What is important is that they spend time with them, because they never know how long they have with their loved ones regardless if there is a pandemic.
Asher Goldberg, iProperty Management
Address Fears and Concerns
Address and ease their fears of taking time off. Employees may be weary because they don’t want to appear unwilling to work for fear of losing their jobs or being furloughed. Others may channel their anxiety about the world into their work so they are reluctant to take time off. Talk through these fears and encourage them to use vacation time to spend more time with their families or to lay by the pool as a way to relax and unwind.
Rex Murphey, American Pipeline Solutions
Focus on Outputs Instead of Inputs
We set very clear performance metrics with our employees and allow them flexibility in accomplishing those goals. That also means that they're responsible for getting that work done and coordinating with other team members to make that happen. When you set these types of expectations, your team plans ahead and you don't have to get in the middle and manage everyone's schedules. It also shows your employees that you don't need to spend needless extra time in the office to look busy if you're delivering on your goals. This is especially helpful in getting high performers or those gunning for a promotion to take vacation time.
Adam Sanders, Successful Release
Lead By Example
There are many positive benefits of taking vacation time. If we take time away from work to recharge and reconnect with loved ones, we can return to work ready to approach our work with energy and purpose. The way leaders take a vacation is a signal for employees on vacation expectations. That's why it is so important to lead by example. When I take time off, I make sure I don't send emails or attempt advance work forward. By intentionally taking time off and fully disconnected from work, I signal to others that it's okay to do the same.
Sterling R. Morris, Intermountain Healthcare
Give Them Ideas for How to Use PTO
I have been continuously suggesting people use their vacation time so they do not forfeit it at the end of the year and to ensure they are getting downtime. For example, one of my direct reports said she was not going to use her vacation as she did not have any plans. I suggested that she take a few long weekends and do local explorations. We live in Virginia and many drives that are beautiful.
Kerry Wekelo, Actualize Consulting
Explain the Purpose of PTO
We strongly recommend taking vacation time during this pandemic. Even if our employees work from home, we ask when they are taking a 'vacation' even if it's a staycation. There are a lot of stressors now and our biggest concern is our employees becoming burned out. It’s very important that our employees stay balanced in their life.
Paul Katzoff, WhiteCanyon Software
Adjust Job Requirements to Allow for Stress-Free PTO
Sales teams are notorious for not taking PTO; this is in part because of the ongoing nature of the work and in part because taking time off can be expensive if you miss on commission. Sales may also be the job that needs time off the most. For our reps, we've developed a simple algorithm for encouraging them to take vacation days and PTO. Essentially, we reduce the individual reps sales goal for the month by a ratio equivalent to the number of days off. This program has been very successful in encouraging actual vacation time, which helps our people come back well-rested and ready to continue on our mission.
Michael Alexis, TeamBuilding