Benefits

How can HR leaders change the perception around PTO so reluctant employees actually take it?

‘What if that person left tomorrow? They need to be able to take that time off and not have it be detrimental to your business,’ said one chief people officer.
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· 3 min read

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For many US workers, paid time off is the carrot dangling over tiring weeks spent juggling meetings and calls. But a surprisingly scant number of employees feel comfortable taking a big, fat bite out of this tasty perk. Just 27% of US employees used all of their PTO in 2021, according to a March Qualtrics survey.

With summer almost over, and some employees likely not having taken a day off, HR pros may be prompted to devise solutions to vacation hesitancy—anything short of booking burned-out workers trips to Turks and Caicos. But Amy Mosher, chief people officer at human-capital management platform isolved, told HR Brew that it’s all about making sure taking time off doesn’t feel daunting or lead to work piling up. Getting there starts with normalizing the idea that recharging is a means of doing one’s best work, and cross-training teams so that no one is buried in an employee’s absence.

Everyone has different reasons. “When I’m talking to employees who are overwhelmed and…don’t feel like they can take time off, I’m asking them: What kind of conversations have they had with their managers about reprioritizing their time or their items or their deliverables? Why do they feel like they can’t take time off? You know, is it a personal thing? Is it a cultural issue? Is it a relationship issue or a communication issue that they have with their managers?”

Set an example from the top down. “Culturally, we set a precedent at the executive level that it’s okay to take time, and to communicate…on a regular basis that not only is it okay, but it’s expected. We’re going to take time, and family comes first.“

More rest = greater productivity. “[Employees] should take the time that they need to feel rested and come back to work with their whole self and their whole mind engaged in what they need to do. I really believe that you have a greater level of productivity and you’re setting a good best practice for the future as well. Some of these younger employees are coming into the workforce and not really sure how to manage their time. Coaching them in that area and helping them to encompass a full life, made up of the personal and professional, is a really healthy thing.”

Teamwork makes the (PTO) dream work. “Reinforce a team dynamic; no single point of failure…What if that person left tomorrow? They need to be able to take that time off and not have it be detrimental to your business. So, make sure that you’re cross-training your teams, that you’re communicating very proactively with your peers, and that you’ve set a team environment where it’s okay to take that time.”—SB

Do you work in HR or have information about your HR department we should know? Email [email protected] or DM @SammBlum on Twitter. For completely confidential conversations, ask Sam for his number on Signal.

HR is challenging. HR news doesn’t have to be.

HR Brew keeps you effective in the fast-changing business environment.