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Effective Paid Time Off Planning: Revitalize Your Workforce

By Laura Sliker and Savannah Rangel

Paid Time Off (PTO) planning and usage are crucial for maintaining a healthy work environment. Many organizations have PTO policies, but few prioritize and encourage their employees to take time away from work. As we near the mid-mark of many PTO annual plans, and with summertime around the corner, here is what organizations can do to help plan for and inspire their team to relax and recharge.

We know that vacation time is critical for our personal and professional wellbeing. Yet many people remain reluctant to take time off. PTO planning can not only help ensure operations run smoothly, but it can also help encourage employees to use their PTO. Here are a few key things to keep in mind:

Review your PTO policy. A clear and well-communicated PTO policy is key in effectively planning for personal and vacation time-off requests. Ensure your organization's policies regarding PTO accrual, usage, and restrictions are accessible in the employee handbook, intranet, or other communication channels. Knowing the organization's PTO policy can help employees plan their time off and follow organization guidelines.

  1. Plan Together. Work as a team to identify busy times and upcoming projects. Share tips on how to notify coworkers and clients about upcoming PTO plans. Create handover instructions or emergency checklists to ensure a smooth transition. In addition, this is an excellent opportunity to ensure all procedures are up to date.

  2. Openly Communicate. Leaders should monitor and regularly meet with employees regarding their PTO usage to help normalize these conversations. Remind employees about the importance of taking time off in organization-wide communications like newsletters or staff meetings.

  3. Be Supportive. Ensure adequate coverage by cross-training employees to handle each other's responsibilities during absences. Proactively providing support for vacation coverage can prevent work overload for backup employees.

  4. Stay Organized. Employers should maintain a reliable system for tracking and reporting PTO. PTO tracking also helps ensure accurate reporting for payroll and compliance purposes. Sharing team calendars is another great way to assist with tracking while providing a visual reminder. Supervisors should also remind their employees when they are nearing their accrual "cap" to ensure no time is lost.

  5. Establish Boundaries. Remind employees to resist the temptation to send work emails or other work-related tasks to employees on leave. Disconnecting may be hard, so setting the expectation that their time off is valued can ensure employees get an actual break from work while out of the office. Set guidelines for employees to avoid contacting colleagues who are taking time off.

  6. Lead by example. Creating a positive vacation culture in your workplace is essential for encouraging employees to take time off and recharge. Leaders can signify the importance of time off by setting an example by encouraging employees to use their vacation time and take PTO. A leader who communicates and upholds personal boundaries will be more powerful than any written or stated expectation.

Organizations actively drive employee wellbeing by embracing PTO planning and usage as a component of organizational health. Proper PTO planning can help reduce burnout, improve morale, and increase productivity. It's a win-win for employees and employers.

For a customized approach to building a culture that embraces PTO, contact Kiwi Partners HR Services.


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