Encouraging employees to use their vacation days can feel strange. After all, nobody wants to leave themselves under-staffed and the rest of their team over-worked. On the other hand, what if employees rarely ever, or even never, take time off? That’s been a question facing business owners this year, as vacation plans were delayed, then cancelled, and PTO built up like never before.
One problem is, PTO payout laws can turn unused PTO into an unwanted financial liability. There’s also a risk of schedule chaos down the line as everyone tries to use their days up at once. Most worrying of all is that employees who go too long without a break, even by choice, risk ending up disengaged and burned out.
The ‘No-Vacation Nation’
Employees not taking PTO isn’t new. Forbes has described America as the ‘no-vacation nation’ and studies show that 55% of employees don’t use up their vacation allowance. In 2018, this added up to an incredible 768 million unused vacation days, the U.S. Travel Association calculated. It’s been obvious for a while that the pandemic meant employees would take fewer vacation days, not more.
In a normal year, you might be able to rely on your PTO policy or vacation policy (it’s basically the same thing) which can what is rolled over to the next year. But policies weren’t designed with a pandemic in mind—it’s worth asking whether this is really the right time for a ‘use it or lose it’ approach. In this moment, a little flexibility could go a long way.
The reality is, for most people a traditional vacation isn’t on the cards in the short term. But vacation doesn’t have to mean a week on the beach. A couple of days off per month, when employees have a chance to properly unplug (i.e., don’t expect them to answer emails) is a lot better than nothing.
So nobody feels they are letting down their colleagues by taking time off and to help keep staffing consistent, you can make scheduling vacation time a team exercise.
Notifying Employees They’ve Hit Maximum PTO
Giving employees more time to use their accrued PTO, or allowing them to roll over a larger sum than normal, is an easy way to show your team you’re putting their wellbeing first. Eventually, though, they are going to hit an accrual limit, and you need to let them know. You’ll want to inform employees well in advance (we recommend 60 days ahead) so they have time to schedule leave at a time that’s convenient for them.
Whatever your PTO policy, make sure employees understand where they stand. To help businesses, Paycor is providing a sample letter to send to employees when they are close to hitting their maximum PTO allowance. Once downloaded, you can customize the text to the needs of your organization.
Get Sample Maximum PTO Accrual Letter