#NextChat: How Do You Encourage Use of Paid Time Off?

dog on vacation

​It's the dog days of summer. How are you encouraging employees to take some time off?

​Past studies have shown that U.S. workers often don't take all of their vacation time, and the onset of COVID-19 has caused some employees to resist taking time off, fearful that their employers will see them as less dedicated or less essential to the organization. Travel bans also have caused some to refrain from taking vacation.

But employees may be feeling stressed or overworked—burned out, in fact. Not taking time off can impact a person's mental and physical well-being.

A recent #NextChat question of the day asked how employers can encourage their employees to take vacation. The following is a compilation of LinkedIn and Twitter responses to that question posed by Mary Kaylor, SHRM-SCP, manager of public affairs at SHRM.  

[SHRM members-only HR Q&A: Can we require an employee to use paid time off (PTO) if he or she hasn't requested it? Can we limit when an employee can use PTO?

We communicate often about maintaining a healthy work/life integration. There is no such thing as work/life balance.... sometimes work takes priority and sometimes life. We share articles about taking time and combine that with healthy mental health issues. I send emails to those who have a high balance of PTO to encourage taking time off. And, as a member of the senior leadership team, I try to set the example.

Richard Davis, SHRM-SCP, director of HR at Atlas Technologies in Charleston, S.C., on LinkedIn 

For the many employers (kudos!) who value work/life balance within their work culture, it's about communication. Check your policies. Are the policies written in a way that encourages employees to take the time they earned through the year? If so, great! If not, maybe it's time to expand. Healthy companies communicate work/life balance through many modes—newsletters, e-mail blasts and texts. This creates a healthy environment where employees feel comfortable taking time off without stigma and anxiety. The biggest champion of this message is in management. Ensure managers are onboard and there is a buy-in and understanding of work/life balance so that it can be communicated regularly to staff and not get lost in translation.

Angela M. Gervino, SHRM-CP, owner and chief people officer at Consult Gervino in Beacon, N.Y., on LinkedIn  

—Daniella Pierre, founder of On the Grid Community Solutions and employment and career services specialist at Miami Dade College in Florida

—Paula O'Brien, senior instructional designer at Fresenius Medical Care North America in the Nashville metropolitan area, on Twitter

—AllOnboard, an HR company based in Rock Hill, S.C., that facilitates onboarding for organizations, on Twitter

By ensuring that leaders model this themselves.

—Melanie Peacock, SHRM-SCP, consultant at Sole Proprietor in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, on Twitter

See also the #NextChat poll question: Do you actively encourage your employees to take their vacation time?  

Related SHRM Online stories and resources:
COVID-19 PTO Changes
Vacation Travel Policies May Need to Be Altered Due to Pandemic
Unlimited Vacation: Is It About Morale or the Bottom Line?
4 Lessons About Unlimited Vacation 

Recent stories from this #NextChat series:
#NextChat: Should Employers Monitor Workers' Social Distancing Away from Work?
#NextChat: How Do You Manage Former Peers?
#NextChat: What Are Resume No-Nos?
#NextChat: How Do You Decide Between Two Candidates of Equal Skill and Experience?



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