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Why You Should Care About PTO in 2019

With all the things you as an HR Decision Maker have to worry about it’s understandable why your employees participation in your PTO policy can seem like a non issue, but rest assured if you put PTO Engagement at the top of your list in 2019, you won’t regret it and your employees will love you for it.

First things first, why should you care about the state of PTO in 2019?

Rethink who your top performers are. 

It’s easy to fall into more traditional concepts like “early bird gets the worm” and “first one in and last one out gets the raise” but the data doesn’t lie here. Statistically speaking, employees who take the most PTO are more likely to be first in line for promotions down the line. Unfortunately though, fear of appearing undedicated to their work is a top listed reason as to why your employees aren’t taking as much PTO as they should be.

Recharged employees fuel your bottom line.

Knowing that your top performers are your PTO champions, it’s no surprise that your re-energized employees will help you achieve your department’s milestones more effectively and efficiently than the work martyr ever could.

Revamped PTO Policies Elevate Work Culture.

Trust us on this one, we know from first-hand experience what a revamped PTO experience can do for teams. In our recent PTO experience eBook, we talk about how creating time off types specific to your team’s needs and interests will help you recruit, retain & satisfy top talent.

From Payroll to compliance to recruitment and other general HR tasks like budget or performance reviews… You HR Decision Makers have your work cut out for you in 2019! So we understand why a PTO policy review might seem like just another thing to add to your list, but we promise you won’t regret it.

Why is The Current State of PTO Problematic?

Earlier in 2018, we reported on a study that proved that high performing employees on average took 19 days of vacation time that year whereas average performers took approximately 14 days of vacation time. It’s important to remember when we see data like this that PTO is a full circle HR policy. Meaning, there’s probably a reason why those who only took 14 days as opposed to those who took 19 days of vacation are considered “average performers”. Perhaps they didn’t feel comfortable taking the extra time, or while they were away they didn’t fully disconnect. All reasons that can be easily fixed by a little change in culture.

A few other common reasons why your employees aren’t taking the vacation time they truly need are as follows. It’s important to watch out for and be aware of these signs in 2019 in order to help deliver the ultimate PTO experience to your employees.

PurelyHR PTO Experience Guide

The Fear of Returning to a Mountain of Work.

This can be particularly problematic in smaller teams where there might not be an immediately obvious person who would take over responsibilities while one employee is away. It can be a bit intimidating thinking about taking two weeks of vacation knowing that your workload will be turned up upon your return, not to mention making it that much harder to disconnect from work completely while on vacation as they might be checking in with their team through emails or completing small tasks here and there to stay on top of things while away. Which technically is just working remotely.

A great solution for this is to create organizational policies around vacation, like having the vacationing employee create a list of their everyday tasks to be completed by an assigned individual to oversee things until their return and have a meeting with the two employees (plus a manager) before they leave to ensure the vacationing employee that everything will be running smoothly.

The Fear of Being Seen as Replaceable.

This is one of the many reasons that has a lot to do with culture, but that doesn’t mean HR Decision Makers are instilling fear into teams about vacation time. Sometimes it can be as simple as past experiences the employee has had that makes them fear taking time off when there could be a promotion right around the corner and their competition hasn’t taken any time off either. In our PTO Experience eBook, we talk about the importance of clear communication around time off so the employee knows and understands how encouraged time off is.

We recommend being careful about rewarding employees who might show signs of work martyr syndrome. On the surface, they might appear reliable and loyal but this is usually temporary as work martyrs often burn out and rewarding this behaviour could send a dangerous message to other staff about the value management places in employee wellness.

Wanting to Show Dedication.

Very similar to the point above but deserving of its own section and at first might seem like an outdated concept but after doing research on the work martyr last year it still seems to pop up quite often. Employees may think they have to ditch their vacation time in order to appear the most dedicated and reliable to their managers. They want to be the first person thought of when additional work or projects come up, thinking this moves them forward in their careers faster when statistically, the opposite is much more consistent as this work method isn’t very sustainable.

We’ve mentioned it a lot in this post so for more ways to diagnosis a work martyr in your staff, see our blog post about it here.

Company Culture Discouraging of Taking Vacation.

A problem within HR that’s very hard to address. This one falls, again, under the importance of clear communication around PTO. According to Project: Time Off two-thirds of employees surveyed felt that their company was ambivalent, discouraging, or sends mixed messages about time off.

In our own Time Off Survey last year we found that 45% of employees could not recount the last time their managers had encouraged them to take any of their allotted time off. Yet, in the same survey, almost 100% of the managers who had participated recalled encouraging their teams within the last year. These are managers and employees who work together within the same organization.

We also found that 10% of employees weren’t aware of what the PTO policies in their workplace even were (and even further, 35% didn’t know what the law required their employer to provide based on their geographical location)

So, as you can see, the way we currently communicate our organization’s values around time off needs to change in order to effectively change the way our employees participate in our PTO policies. Commonly, PTO benefits are mentioned in the job ad or upon a new hires’ orientation and then never brought up by management to the employee again, which would account for the statistics listed above. This is why PurelyHR allows you to automate Policy Reminders to your staff, updating them on their PTO usage and encouraging them to use it.

Stockpiling.

Originally viewed as a PTO benefit, allowing your employees to carry over their vacation days each year can lead to justifications for abandoning vacation time year after year. In an isolated incident in Jacksonville, the cities police and fire pension chief announced his retirement after not taking vacation for five years and requested a payout for over half a million dollars in unused vacation time. YIKES.

We recommend a use-it-or-lose-it policy to incentivize your teams to take advantage of their benefits every year in order to stay refreshed and focused.

It may seem like a lot, but we promise with just a few alterations to how you approach PTO in 2019 you’ll see a skyrocketed engagement in your policies. Let’s take a look at this quick recap of what we just covered above.

Curious to see where your organization falls with your approach to PTO policies? Just take a quick breeze through that checklist and let us know in the comments how you’re doing. Hopefully, this post has brought some new approaches for you to give a try… If they work out for you please let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

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Jared Goodman

As Content Coordinator at PurelyHR, it’s Jared’s job to research the latest and greatest time off trends and deliver them in impactful ways to our customers. A self-proclaimed Anti-Hustler, Jared knows the value time off can have in a business, having burned out several times as a freelancer before finding true work/life balance at PurelyHR. It’s his mission to help all 100,000 of our users achieve that same satisfaction.

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