How to Make Sure Your Staff Takes Time Off

You have spent a considerable amount of time drafting your paid time off (PTO) policies to make sure that you offer a generous PTO package to your employees. However, some of your team members have not taken advantage of time off and will lose their days off at the end of the year.

What can you do?

Set reminders for HR and line managers to review time off balances on a consistent basis. E.g. every quarter.

  • Reach out to the team members who have not requested time off in a while to see what is going on.

  • Do not assume they have big plans coming up – ask if everything is all right.

  • Stay away from asking details about their lives or family planning.

  • The goal of this conversation is to ensure their work responsibilities allow them to take time off and have a healthy work-life balance.

Check whether their supervisors or colleagues are taking many days off or are not taking any time off at all.

If others are planning time away frequently, this may prevent other team members from taking time off. At the same time, if their teammates never take time off, it may be difficult for an employee to feel empowered to take days off.

Review your PTO policy - some areas to keep in mind:

  • Carry over rules: Do you allow staff members to carry over some days to the next year? Do you allow more days to be carried over if employees cannot take the days due to work-related emergencies or special projects?

  • Time off requests: Do you have an easy way for your staff to request, as well as for their supervisors to approve days off? Are there some trends in days rejected? Pay attention to teams or people that usually have their days not approved.

  • PTO in conjunction with other polices: Do you offer generous parental, personal, sick or bereavement leave to name a few? If you don’t, your staff may be saving vacation days for rainy days. You may want to consider offering different kinds of leaves if your staff feels they have to save vacation days for more pressing and unplanned matters.

  • Payment of days: Do you pay unused but accrued vacation days at the end of the year? If so, consider that you may be incentivizing your team to save their vacation days. Although some states and cities mandate the payment of unused but accrued days during termination, often you can decide how the days are accrued and lost during employment.

  • Working while off: Do you have a rule, or do you enforce that no work be performed when staff is taking PTO? Are your supervisors trained in how to handle emergencies during their teams’ PTO? You want to avoid having your team feel that it is not worth taking the days off if they will be working or available for calls during their time away from the office.

In times where technology allows us to be connected 24/7, it is more important than ever to ensure that your staff gets the proper rest they need. Work-life balance increases productivity, engagement and retention. Make sure that you not only offer generous time off policies but that they are also meeting your staff needs as well as your organizational goals.