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4 Reasons Employers Should Encourage PTO this Summer

4 Reasons Employers Should Encourage PTO this Summer

With the summer months quickly approaching, employers should encourage their teams to use their paid time off (PTO). Telling employees to take time off sounds counterintuitive—isn’t it best if your employees are reporting for duty and present at work? Not exactly. Read on to find out why.


Reminder: What is PTO and Why is it Important?

Paid time off, or PTO, is time that employees can take off of work while still getting paid regular wages. This does not include times in which an employee works remotely or telecommutes. Typically, PTO policies combine vacation, sick and personal days. Companies structure their policies in different ways depending on the company’s size and industry. Additionally, common types of PTO policies include national holidays, floating holidays, paid family leave, and paid sick leave.

A strong paid time off policy helps retain current talent and attract prospective candidates. Furthermore, employers also provide employees PTO as a way to combat employee burnout, increase productivity, and boost morale.


How Unused PTO Impacts Employees

Historically, American workers aren’t the best at using all of their paid vacation days. In 2018, American workers let a record 768 million vacation days go unused and 2020 wasn’t much better, since the coronavirus pandemic thwarted employees’ time off plans

When vacation days are lost, the employee also loses a valuable part of their benefits package that can't be recovered or replaced. Essentially, the employee is losing value by forfeiting this time off.


Why Employers Should Encourage Employees to Use PTO this Summer

This year, employers should encourage their teams to take advantage of warm weather, safely plan a summer vacation with friends or families, and use their paid time off. Here are some reasons why:


1. After 2020, Employees Need a Break

Simply put, your team members could probably use a break after such a stressful year. Burnout has been a huge concern for employers ever since the pandemic began, and one of the most important remedies to burnout is paid time off from work. By taking a break from the office, employees temporarily separate from workplace pressures and decrease stress levels. This "stress detox" benefits the physical and mental wellbeing of employees which, as a result, increases productivity.


2. Prevent an Understaffed Q4 and Improve Retention

If employees plan out and use their PTO now, it’ll prevent low productivity and staffing issues in Q4. This is especially important if Q4 is your industry’s busy season and your organization depends on a full team during that time. Likewise, your organization’s PTO policy can also impact retention efforts. As vaccination efforts ramp up across the country, a report by Eagle Hill Consulting indicates that a massive wave of turnover is expected once the pandemic is more under control and employees feel safe making a career move. If this is the case, encouraging PTO use could boost retention efforts and prevent an understaffed Q4.


3. PTO Boosts Creativity and Morale

Not only does vacation reduce stress, it also increases creativity. In fact, according to an article published by Psychology Today, "Brain imaging studies show that doing nothing, being idle, daydreaming, and relaxing create alpha waves in the brain that are key to creative insights and innovative breakthroughs." This finding counters the common misconception that working longer accomplishes more.


4. Unused PTO Can Cause Financial Liability

There are no federal laws that require employers to pay out PTO when an employee leaves. However, there are state laws that establish PTO payout requirements. In other words, employers are only required to pay out PTO if they promised to do so in an employment contract or operated in a state that regulated PTO payout. By implementing a PTO policy that encourages employees to take vacation days, an employer can reduce financial liability if this applies to your organization.

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