Employees are entitled to paid time off or PTO. They can use it to take a break from work for recreational purposes. It can also be used due to emergencies, whether medical, family-related, or something else.
But not a lot of employees claim their leave credits. In 2019, one survey found that 59% of respondents didn’t use up all their vacation leave credits by the end of the year. And there are many reasons why.
Why Employees Don’t Take Time Off
Forbes magazine claimed America to be “vacation-phobic.” Even though all employees have PTO, they don’t use it because of the stigma that comes with it. Someone may be perceived to be not serious with their job if they take time off, even if it’s due to sickness.
Some employees are scared of taking time off because of workload. In one survey of over 5,600 employees, some of them don’t take time off because they’re afraid of getting behind work. This happens because no one takes over their work during their absence.
Say an employee takes a few days off for a break and to de-stress. When they come back, their work will have piled up. And they’ll have to chase deadlines, which will only make them stressed again. In this scenario, it’s understandable why many employees hesitate to take time off.
However, in the long run, working without breaks can cause harm to both the employees and their employers. For example, employees will feel exhausted and burnt out. So they won’t be able to perform at their best.
Make Employees Take Time Off
Leaders need to ensure that employees use their PTO. Here are some strategies to encourage them to do so:
1. Set an Example
Employees will be more likely to take a break from work if it’s modeled by managers and other leaders. For instance, working in a security firm such as Eagle Eye Security can be hectic, whether one is on the corporate side or on the field. Employees need to do risk assessments, plan contingencies, conduct regular training, and many more. But employees may not consider taking time off so that they don’t fall behind deadlines.
This is where managers come in. They need to lead by example by using their paid time off. And through such action, managers also need to remind the people in their team to plot their time off and file them when possible.
2. Mandate and Set Deadlines
It will be helpful if employees are regularly reminded that they have leave credits and that using them is mandatory. This may look like the higher-ups are “forcing” employees to request leaves. But this is still a way of helping employees by ensuring that they get a break that they deserve and are entitled to.
Managers should also set deadlines for PTO requests. This way, they can plan who can be in charge of the workload of one employee while they’re out so that when they come back, they won’t be overwhelmed.
3. Incorporate PTO in the Company’s Culture
The work environment of a company can also affect one’s willingness to request PTO. For instance, if people who take a vacation from work are teased or mocked about it when they get back to work, other employees who see this won’t want to take a vacation. Or maybe leaders in the company always thoroughly question the reason behind filing for PTO. This questioning will discourage employees from taking a break, even when they’re entitled to.
Thus, it’s important to cultivate a company culture that promotes employees’ well-being and encourages them to take time off. This can be done through small gestures, such as email blasts about recommended activities that employees can do during their vacation. Companies can also reward time off after an employee reaches an important milestone.
4. Remind Employees of Their Leave Credits
Managers can coordinate with HR to send out emails about their leave credits. These emails may include the number of paid off days that each employee has. If employees are reminded that they have paid leave credits they can and should claim, they will be more encouraged to request PTO.
Modern society needs to abolish the idea that a good employee is someone who’s always present on the job and never takes time off. It’s a wrong image to promote and can be borderline toxic. Instead, society needs to promote the idea of work-life balance more. Leaders of companies can contribute to this image by encouraging their employees to take time off and take a well-deserved vacation.