Creating a healthy work-life balance: How to support an effective PTO

“Work hard, play hard.” This idea of ​​essentials during the holidays is nothing new, but it is something that many businesses seem to forget when it comes to putting together a convenience package. Unfortunately, the dangers of “all work and no play” are greater than just burnout. Without a healthy balance of personal time (not to mention the time for doctors and flat tires) employees face a number of health risks and are also less effective in their work. Now learn how to maintain a healthy work-life balance and help your employees take PTOs effectively.

Why is PTO important?

Burnout is high among employees at all levels, and a large part of it is the lack of work-life balance. Working all year without adequate personal time is extremely detrimental to your employees and can have a lasting effect on their mental health. This can lead to feelings of frustration and despair because employees work hard to make money but do not have time to spend for themselves. There is no such thing as a 15-minute break, and your employees deserve the opportunity to make a living no matter what stage of life they live.

However, effective PTO is more than just enjoying life. According to this Forbes article, adequate leisure time is associated with risk of heart disease and related deaths. Overseas travel has been directly linked to increased creativity and emotional flexibility. It improves sleep, strengthens employees against future stress, and improves overall well-being and productivity. So PTO not only helps your employees, it makes them more effective in their jobs.

What are the different types of PTO policies?

Although there are different approaches to PTO, here are some common PTO policies used in the United States today:

Acquired PTO – With this policy, employees earn PTO according to the hours they work. This method makes it difficult for employees who may need to stop sick time earlier than their time, especially if they do not collect PTO very quickly. It can also discourage employees from taking time off when they need to because they want to “save it later.”

Proportional PTO – Some companies will offer a certain amount of PTO that is available at the beginning of the year. This gives employees more flexibility about when they want to use their PTO, but it can also cause problems when illness or other factors force them to use most or all of their PTOs at the beginning of the year, leaving them with a few options later.

Discreet PTO – It allows employees to take time with the approval of the manager without a fixed limit of days or hours. While this can be very effective in allowing employees to take sick leave as needed, many employers use this method to create a culture that discourages the use of PTOs or makes the application process for PTOs more difficult due to concerns. Employees will use too much. .

How much PTO is enough?

Although science still has to figure out how much to take each year, this study, often quoted in the Journal of Happiness Studies, says that to get the most out of a vacation, the vacation should last at least 8 days. When you consider at least an 8-day vacation each year, and the time for sick days, family activity, doctor’s appointments, and unexpected emergencies that arise in the lives of adults, the downside is that most companies can’t offer enough time. For the needs of their staff. Big companies like Google are pushing for more offers, offering a minimum of 20 PTO days per year in addition to benefits such as extended parental leave.

The truth of the matter is that we do not know how much PTO a single employee will need in a year. Some people will need more while others will need less and there is no sure way to predict this. So, instead of asking “How much PTO is enough?” We should ask “Are my employees’ needs being met?” “Have they taken a lot of personal time this quarter?” And “When was the last time they got at least 8 consecutive days off?”

Bad PTO practice to avoid

Unfortunately, even employees with prudence or adequate PTO often don’t take as much as they need. Many companies, intentionally or unintentionally, discourage the use of PTOs through their company culture and policies. Here are some things to avoid that could hinder employees from getting a healthy amount of PTO:

  • Excessive work stress: When your employees have more work than time, they will not feel safe in taking the required PTO. For these employees, taking a PTO means a back-up workload that creates more stress than any vacation.
  • Difficult approval process: Do your employees know how to get approval? Can they ask their manager directly, or are there different levels of approval for climbing? Can their requests be granted if they ask in advance? If the PTO is not accessible, it is worthless to your employees.
  • Open discouragement: Are your managers commenting on how much PTO your employees are taking? “Wow, this is a long vacation” or “How did you still leave the PTO?” Small comments like this may seem innocent, but they make employees feel guilty for exercising their contractual rights in their PTO.
  • Praise those who do not take it: When you praise employees for not taking the time, you are sending a message to others that leaving their well-being will give them more benefits in the eyes of the company. In reality, not accepting PTOs is bad for employees and their productivity.
  • Block time: While it is true that most of the time, not everyone can take all their time at once, it is important that employees are aware in advance that certain times are either out of range or difficult to schedule for the PTO. Otherwise, your employees may save all their time for the Christmas holidays which is ultimately denied.
  • Do not respect the PTO: What does it mean to take a PTO if your manager blows up your phone with text and email all the time? Time off is time off, which means there should be no work at all. Conversely, any expectation will not only discourage the use of PTOs, but also render those PTOs ineffective for the sake of productivity or well-being.
  • Policing off time: Are you counting every hour away from the desk as a PTO? Are employees unable to change hours around doctor appointments and other non-restless necessities? This may seem like a good time management, but you are really just consuming the time that should be saved to maintain the mental and physical health of your employees.

How do I encourage employees to stop on time?

While it is important to avoid discouraging PTOs, it is also important that employers take an active role in encouraging it. American work policy often makes employees feel guilty for taking time for themselves and proud for not taking time off. Here are some ways to keep your employees in the right mindset to truly benefit from a healthy work-life balance:

  • Appreciate the PTO openly: When an employee takes leave, make sure they are feeling good about it! Tell them they deserve it, they should enjoy it and turn off their phone so they can really disconnect. Let them know that they have nothing to feel guilty about and you are happy that they are taking care of themselves.
  • Encourage with reminders: Notice your employee didn’t get leave this year? Ask them if they have any plans and encourage them to get approval in advance. New recruits may feel nervous to ask for leave, especially when they want to impress you, so make sure they know you want to use their PTO.
  • Stay well stuffed: I know, easier said than done, but companies that have enough employees to cover their workload will have healthier, happier and more productive employees. Not only does this reduce work-related stress, but it also makes it easier for everyone to take time off without having to work later for others or for themselves.
  • Set expectations in advance: Are there certain times of the year when it will be difficult to schedule a PTO? Do you need employees not to take more than a certain number of days off in a row? Make sure these expectations are discussed in advance so that employees can plan accordingly.
  • There is a simple approval process: Involve as few people as possible in your application and approval process and keep it straight. If you email 8 people and spend a week adjusting the calendar, you need a new system. You also need to ensure this process while onboarding.
  • Manage your schedule well: PTO is not the only thing that needs to be well defined. If the workload is unexpected and irregular, it’s important that you find ways to better schedule it so that employees don’t have to cancel vacations for last-minute projects or changes that should have been planned early in the quarter.

But how do I prevent PTO abuse by employees?

Worried your employees are going to abuse their PTO? This is a common concern, especially with companies that use a prudent model for their PTO policy. However, the solution starts with trusting your employees more. Believe that you have hired responsible adults who care about their work and company. Believe that they are able to make good decisions about personal time without affecting their work pressure. Most importantly, believe that if they ask for a holiday, they need it.

Of course, not every employee survives with your confidence in them. Fortunately, the company has performance reviews. If you notice that an employee is using an average PTO and they are not getting their job, talk to them. Are they suffering from health problems? Don’t they know how to manage their time effectively? Whatever the problem, work with them and if it can’t be resolved, it’s time to hire someone else. When you fill your business with responsible and loyal employees, your business will benefit. But punishing everyone out of fear that one person could abuse the system would create more problems than it solves.

An unhealthy workforce nurtures an unhealthy company. This is why it is so important to take care of your employees by giving them proper personal time — even if it means the company pays more at this time. The truth of the matter is that the investment is valuable, providing high productivity, reduced healthcare costs, low turnover and overall work satisfaction from healthy and happy workers. If your employees do not accept the PTO, it is time to change.


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