How to encourage more PTO and prep employees for vacations

How to encourage more PTO and prep employees for vacations

Vacations are crucial for wellbeing – but not all employees are taking their full PTO. Here’s how to encourage employees to take PTO and prepare for vacations.
Back to blog

Unlocking the Power of PTO: How to Encourage Employees to Take Vacations

At Loop, we're big believers in the importance of quality of life, both inside and outside the office. Our earplugs are just the start – helping employees to tune out the noise so they can focus on what matters most.

However, enhancing our quality of life doesn't stop with reducing background noise. It's about embracing wellness from every angle, both in the hustle of work and the relaxation of downtime. That's why we empower our team at Loop to live their best life, whether traveling somewhere exotic on vacation or our company workaways, taking time out for hobbies, or embracing flexible work styles that fit their unique needs.

And guess what we've noticed? A happy team is a productive team. Personal time off isn't just for rest and relaxation: it's your greatest tool for team efficiency.

However, encouraging your team to take that well-deserved break – and managing the office in their absence – is where the challenge lies. So, we've put together all we've learned about making vacations a breeze for both our employees and the company.

The modern state of employee vacations

Remember the last time you truly switched off on holiday? That feeling of stress melting away isn't just good for your soul; it's essential for maintaining a happy, efficient team. Despite knowing how critical this is, too many of us are guilty of stockpiling vacation days, missing out on much-needed breaks.

The work-life balance struggle is real, with burnout being a common theme among today's workforce. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 41% of employees experience burnout. This lowers morale and can lead to more errors, disengagement and turnover.

A key to countering this? Paid time off (PTO). Yet, a surprising 42% of U.S. workers haven't taken a break in the past year. Unlike Europe's firm vacation policies, the U.S. lacks strict guidelines, leaving many to forego their well-deserved rest.

Why vacations matter more than you think

Skipping out on vacation might not seem like a big deal, but it is. Beyond balancing work and play, vacations are essential to physical health. Studies link regular vacations to reduced heart disease risks, showing those who take time off tend to live longer, healthier lives. It's simple: vacations make your team healthier and happier.

And happiness boosts productivity. The University of Oxford found that happier employees are 13% more productive, not because they work more hours but because they accomplish more in the time they have. Vacations contribute to this by refreshing the mind and spirit, enhancing focus and efficiency upon return.

In fact, Mark Rosekind from Alertness Solutions conducted a study focusing explicitly on how vacations influence productivity. His findings revealed that vacations can boost performance by up to 80%. Then, upon returning to work, employees demonstrated a 40% improvement in reaction times, further highlighting the therapeutic benefits of taking time off.

The benefits of employee vacations are undeniable for both your team and your business. The question then becomes, how can you encourage your employees to take their well-deserved breaks without the business suffering from unfinished tasks in their absence?

Prepping employees for PTO

The key to smooth sailing during vacation season starts with understanding why your team might hesitate to take their PTO. It could be workload worries, fear of being seen as less committed, concerns over job prospects, financial constraints, or the inability to switch off while on vacation.Here's how you can ease these concerns and set the stage for guilt-free breaks:

Normalize workload discussions

Understanding your team's tasks really helps even out the workload, which can prevent burnout and make taking vacations seem a lot more doable.

Promote regular breaks

Try to have regular check-ins with your team, be flexible with deadlines and chat about how to manage priorities. This way, everyone can focus on the must-do tasks first, while those that aren’t as urgent can be shuffled around vacation times. It’s all about keeping things smooth and stress-free, so everyone feels they can take a break when they need it.

Create a handover plan

Before anyone heads out on vacation, make sure to clarify what needs to be done in their absence and who's stepping in to cover.

Assign a point of contact and temporary roles, maybe even squeeze in a little staff training beforehand. This way, everyone's on the same page and ready to handle things without a hitch, making sure urgent tasks are taken care of without overwhelming anyone.

Champion a vacation culture

Lead by example. When management visibly takes and values time off, it signals to employees that it's not only accepted but encouraged. 

So flip on that out-of-office reply and resist peeking at your emails while you're on vacation – show your team you mean downtime as much as you mean business.

Set clear boundaries

Emphasize the importance of fully disconnecting during vacations by clearly setting expectations for email and work communications.

Encourage employees to turn off their work phones and set up auto-response emails – nobody should be expected to answer work calls from the poolside, interrupting their rest and relaxation. This approach helps ensure that everyone gets a true break from work duties.

Promote regular breaks

Encourage your team to step away from their desks and really make the most of their lunch breaks. Why not spice things up with some lunchtime yoga or walking groups? It’s a great way to get everyone moving and mingling – just pop it onto the company calendar so it becomes part of the routine.

Plus, setting up a few quiet zones around the office can provide a perfect escape when work gets a bit overwhelming. And maybe think about kicking off a workplace wellness program to show everyone how to switch off from work mode.

Incentivize your employees to take time off

Sometimes, even with all the right structures, some employees might still shy away from using their PTO. That's where incentives can play a role. From bonuses for those who use all their vacation days to innovative policies like Bamboo HR's Paid Vacation, incentives show that a company values its team's well-being. Exploring flexible work arrangements, like a four-day workweek or a strict 'use-it-or-lose-it' PTO policy, can encourage more regular time off.

Encourage more vacations and increase team productivity

Here at Loop, we understand the importance of work-life balance, and vacations are a big part of that equation. Encouraging your team to take their well-earned breaks might be challenging, but creating a culture that values downtime is key. With the right planning and encouragement, vacations can become integral to your team's routine, leading to a more engaged, productive and happy workplace.

It's all about finding the right balance and ensuring everyone feels supported to take their PTO while keeping the business thriving because a refreshed team is a big win for everyone – happy employers and well-rested staff included.

Corporate gifting 2024

"Ultimately, your corporate gift should be more than just another item in a goodie bag or a generic thank-you gesture."