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14 Tips For Encouraging Employees To Take Time Off

By News Creatives Authors , in Leadership , at September 3, 2021

Giving your employees ample time to rest and recharge can help them and your company stay on track. However, workers need to see good “time off” practices modeled by their leaders if companies hope to encourage the use of PTO.

There are numerous ways to weave this mindset into your company’s culture, from discouraging work communication during time off to making well-being an integral part of your company’s values. To support leaders who want to encourage their employees to take time for themselves, 14 members of Forbes Human Resources Council laid out their tips for motivating employees to use and enjoy their time off.

1. Discuss PTO Openly And Ensure Workload Coverage

Leaders can encourage employees to use their PTO by taking time off themselves, discussing trips or vacation plans in team meetings and prompting others to do the same. Designate a set number of PTO hours that can’t be carried over to next year, and ensure each employee has a back-up who is familiar with their work and can cover their workload when they are away. – John Feldmann, Insperity

2. Encourage Taking PTO For ‘No Reason’

Many employees feel like they have to justify why they are requesting a day off, whether it’s for vacation or an appointment. I remind my team that it’s their time to use as they wish! – Katie Davison, Mon Health System


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3. Create Company Holidays

For months that do not have any federal holidays, we create a company holiday on a Friday or Monday of that month. For months that do have a federal holiday, we add a day off on a Friday or Tuesday. With everyone being out of office, employees have felt fellowship in stepping away, and this has encouraged employees to take more time off around these chosen extra days. – Courtney Berkholtz, Anvyl

4. Demonstrate That Work-Life Balance Is A Priority

Model that time away is necessary and helpful. Demonstrate by your actions that work-life balance is a priority and time away supports that effort. Show your teams that sometimes work can wait. It will certainly be there when someone returns. Teach that an individual can only be as good to the company as they are to themselves. With that, encourage and sometimes require that time be taken. – Tina R. Walker, California Community Foundation

5. Model Unplugging And Taking Time Off

It’s one thing to espouse taking time off and disconnecting, but if we don’t model the behavior we desire, there will be a disconnect. Education, taking time and truly respecting boundaries are essential to support an employee experience focused on well-being, thriving, inclusion and balance. Model time away, standardize out-of-office email responses and utilize tech to support employees truly unplugging! – Maria Miletic, Blue Prism Software

6. Add Vacation Leave As A Goal In Annual Performance Reviews

In my experience, an effective approach has been to add my team’s vacation leave as a goal in the annual performance review. By doing this, I’m accountable for delivering projects in a way that allows my team to recharge and achieve balance. In organizations where work-life balance is underperforming, linking part of the performance bonus to vacation leave is useful. – David Swanagon, Ericsson

7. Practice What You Preach

Many leaders need to encourage time off by speaking about it on company calls and showing that they are supportive. Many employees feel guilty about being away, and as leaders, it is their job to make employees feel that work/life balance is supported. Leaders should also be role models in taking time off—don’t email the employees while they are out of the office. Practicing what you preach goes a long way. – Heather Smith, Flimp Communications

8. Send Monthly Vacation Balance Reminders

We send out monthly vacation balance reminders to managers so they can have a discussion with their employees who carry a high balance and encourage them to take time off. This can reduce that liability for the company and ensure employees have a work/life balance. We also send weekly HR emails to the whole company with benefits tips, including the importance of taking time off. – Erin ImHof, Circadence

9. Have Your Employees’ Backs

Let employees know that you fully encourage them to take time off, so much so that their out-of-office message states that you will handle any inquiries so that the employee can enjoy their time away. Eliminating the stress of staff following up on emails or being accountable for tasks within their role shows that the leader cares and gives them permission to shut off. – Rob Catalano, WorkTango

10. Consider A ‘No-Policy’ Vacation Approach

In our organization, we transitioned to a “no-policy” vacation approach. We have seen colleagues take trips of a lifetime overseas, attend a wedding in Africa and take more three-day weekends. All of this is up to the discretion of the colleague and their team to ensure there is coverage. Promote and model a self-directed culture where colleagues own their work and their personal lives. – Megan Leasher, Talent Plus

11. Do One-On-One Check-Ins

Check in with your employees one-on-one. Discuss the importance of taking a break so burnout doesn’t happen. Share an example of how refreshed, recharged and/or creative you’ve felt after taking a break. Encouragement allows your employees to feel like you have their back and see value in their time off. It’s not about the “trip,” it’s about the forced downtime to disconnect from work problems. – Amy Odeneal, Business Enablement 

12. Be Intentional With PTO Rollover Policies

“Use it or lose it” annual policies typically result in employees using their time and still working. Additionally, employees tend to harvest time with pure rollover policies. Allowing employees a blend of saving and utilizing their paid time off within a year will encourage time off usage. – Nakisha Griffin, Ripple Effect

13. Consistently Build Work-Life Balance Among Your Team

Companies and their leaders need to walk into the employees’ shoes and bring more empathy. Creating a healthy and productive culture is the key. Leaders should focus on building a good practice of healthy work-life balance among their team, as this is not to be seen as a one-time or yearly activity. – Soumyasanto Sen, People Conscience

14. Manage Workload And Coverage

After modeling the behavior that it’s okay to take vacation, it’s important to manage the workload. Ensure the team feels it’s okay to take time off and someone will cover for them so that they don’t dread coming back to work. Leaders should request time off and not call team members when they are out to ensure that the team feels supported when they are out enjoying their vacation. – Rohini Shankar, CIOX Health

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