As an employer, you may find that the summer months bring more requests for vacation days, personal days and even sick days, but are you certain your workforce is comfortable using all the time off you offer? While larger companies may not suffer from multiple employees being out for extended periods, smaller-sized businesses sometimes struggle to keep productivity flowing with a few key employees out of the office, and some employees feel this pressure. However, you must be flexible with employee time-off requests, as this can make a big difference in their mental well-being. Also, you want it to be known across the company that taking a vacation is completely acceptable.
All employers provide some type of workplace leave as part of a standard employee benefits package, whether in the form of vacation, sick and/or personal time or paid time off (PTO). Although there are no federal laws in the United States requiring an employer to provide paid vacation days, many employers include them as a means of attracting and retaining quality employees.
Paid time off is such a common benefit that prospective employees have come to expect it. Most companies determine the amount to make available by using a formula that designates a certain number of hours earned based on the hours worked during a specified time period. But despite vacation time being typical and even expected, people might not be using as much of it as you’d think: Seventy-five percent of the American workforce does not take all their paid vacation time each year, according to polling by Harris Interactive.
It’s important to make it clear that being away from the workplace allows employees much-needed time to recharge, be with loved ones and return to work with a fresh mindset. So, how can you encourage your employees to utilize their provided vacation time?
Build a Comfort Level With Vacation Time
Try instituting a few tactics surrounding vacation time to subtly encourage your workforce to use it every year. First, make sure it’s a common topic in the workplace: have department heads be aware of who is taking time off and when. By bringing it up in regular meetings, you’re showing that it’s expected and acceptable for people to schedule vacation days. Keep an eye on those who aren’t taking any, and simply let them know your company policy on time off. Let them know you encourage taking vacation time. Finally, underline the benefits of vacation time to everyone; let it be known you want each of your employees at the top of their mental game and that time off is a great way to recharge.
From an employer-oriented standpoint, you want to be mindful that there may be an influx of requests for time off at the end of the year, resulting in a significantly decreased workforce. Yes, many industries shut down around the holidays, but still make it clear that employees should feel free to use PTO throughout the year, not just in December.
While employers all want a productive workforce, we need to be mindful that productivity results from healthy mental and physical well-being. It’s thus important for you to convey that your employees’ wellness is the highest priority, and encourage them to use their PTO off to rest, recharge, relax and enjoy their time away from the workplace.
Allison Hutton is an experienced writer, editor, communications professional, researcher and social media consultant. During her more than 15 years of communications and writing experience, Allison has worked with a variety of clients, from small-business owners to Fortune 500 companies. She has an M.S. in entertainment business, a B.A. in communication and lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her husband and four children.