Updated September 2021. First published August 2019.
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. A strong time-off policy can simultaneously meet your staff needs while supporting your organizational goals.
Below are tips to encourage your staff to take time off:
1) 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.
2) 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. In addition, managers can lead by example in being proactive about their own time off.
3) Review your PTO policy - some areas and questions 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.
Contact the Kiwi Partners' HR Services team if you need assistance in developing a fair and effective time-off practice.