How important is a holiday for employees?
Well, studies show that employees who take vacation are more productive. Taking a vacation can help employees deal with burnout, clear their minds, enhance work-life balance, and improve their physical and mental health.
Consistent long working hours put employees in a constant state of worry that they do not have a proper work-life balance. This raises a concern and negatively impacts their personal life. Research studies published in Psychosomatic medicine imply that vacations reduce the risk of heart disease. People who do not take breaks for several years are thirty percent more likely to suffer from heart attacks than those who take yearly vacations.
But, even with the Time off requests given by the organization, why do the employees fail to use them? Owing to the company’s work nature, many employees stick to the “workaholic culture.” Many employees feel like their vacation time might manifest that they are less committed. Some workers fear that their co-worker might complete their work and that their job is at risk in their absence. Sometimes people also think that a company cannot run without them and there is nobody else to do their job. In some places, some workers take pride and wear it as a badge of honor for not taking a vacation or paid time off in years. This discourages other workers and spending time getting ahead in their jobs and projecting this self-image to their employers.
Paid Time Off – PTO
Paid time off Requests or the PTOs are sanctioned leaves that employees can get under the company’s policies. During PTO, workers won’t have a loss of pay. The employees can be away for a specific period and will get paid. Employees can use PTO for medical, marriage, grief, vacation, and personal reasons and can be availed when needed. PTO is one of the fundamental benefits offered by a company. Having attractive time-off policies is an added advantage for a company in hiring the best talents.
How much paid time off can you get? It depends on the company. Many companies have combined sick leave and vacation into “personal in recent years.” There are different types of PTOs, and it differs with the company and location. Your company must categorize them based on reasons for employees to avail themselves easily.
Here are some of the common types of paid time offs:
Vacation time off
Employees can avail themselves of vacation time off when they need a break from work. They get around two more paid days off and spend time with their family. Since vacation time offs are variable, companies need to formulate clear guidelines. The employees must notify the management before going on vacation to manage work in their absence. The accrual of vacation time off varies with the company and how much employees have used it in a year and accumulate accordingly.
Traditional sick leave
Sick leaves are a less fun time off. This can be availed when there is a medical emergency or when they are sick. Unlike the United States, many companies in countries like Asia, Europe, and South America offer mandatory paid sick leave. For instance, in the Netherlands, employees receive 70% of their salary and 24 months of paid off-break while recovering from a disease.
Restricted holidays aka optional holidays
These are optional holidays commonly celebrated by the public but not widely recognized as holidays. This type of leave is optional for a company to use as a time off. Some companies have an exhaustive list where the employees can avail five or ten days, depending on the occasion.
Personal leave/time off
These time offs also depend on the company to give employees short-term activities like – visiting a bank, attending a family matter, doctor’s appointment, etc.
Parental / Maternity leave
Paid parental leaves can be availed by employees when they become a parent or go for adoption. Maternity leave is a long-duration PTO that generally mothers get and is used in a single go. The parental leaves in companies can be split up and used by new fathers. These leaves can also be availed when they adopt a child. Parental leaves are given based on governmental laws.
A few days are allocated in a financial year when all other time offs are used. When not used, the leave days get accrued as a bonus or get encashed at the end of the year with their salary.
The employee takes this leave when there is an unfortunate event of the death of a family member or a loved one.
Leave to cast a vote
Employees get this time off requests to cast votes during national and state elections. This is calculated hourly and gets a few hours for casting their vote and returning to work.
Gifting Employees the Benefit of time
Gifting your employees’ time off can help them to rest and bounce back to jobs more dynamically. Therefore, employers need to encourage workers to take-offs regularly. A good leader should model “paid time off practices” and encourage them to use them. According to a 2021 report from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, more than 70% of employees have more than one type of paid time off provided by the company. The rate is much higher in certain types of state, local and governmental organizations.
While most businesses close for Christmas and New Year and for other major holidays, some employers plan to expand their time off. When you provide them with discretionary time offs, it can help reduce employees taking sick leaves. Especially before the pandemic, companies offered only limited PTOs. But now, many companies are offering personal time offs appropriately.
Moreover, when employers can see the signs of burnout, they can encourage employees by providing them with valuable tools and resources to relieve stress. They can encourage their employees to have a “me day” occasionally by introducing the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
Make sure employees stay safe, especially when they travel for holidays. Before approving their leaves, make sure they are not going to a pandemic hit vacation spots. While returning, make sure they are quarantined well enough to return to work. You can also send occasional gifts and hold events for celebrating Christmas and New Year etc. Sending them chocolates and vacation gift packages limits them from taking unnecessary leaves, increasing the fun level in the workplace.
Increased organizational awareness and a diverse workforce are some of the benefits of setting up a sound leave management system. Irrespective of the work culture, you need to hire the right people who will get the job done. Moreover, when employees have different PTO types, you can enhance workplace relationships across the organizational hierarchy.
Many companies attract and retain the best talents using their time offs. Both your current and future employees expect PTO from you. Along with some job perks and salary hikes, a good time off gives you a competitive edge. Flexibility improves talent retention as it improves employee engagement and motivation.
Leveraging A Great Paid Time Off Policy
A comprehensive and flexible time off requests policy can make your employees feel valued. As a result, it increases loyalty and productivity, which in turn improves business growth. Some industry experts agree that a sound PTO Requests tracking system is the right thing for formulating a firm PTO policy. Pavel Stepanov, CEO of Virtudesk, says that balance is the key ingredient – “A great PTO policy cares for the employees [and] maintains the quality of the services a company provides. There are minimal disadvantages when you create a robust PTO policy. [Moreover, it gives you an upper hand] in managing your employees’ attendance and productivity. It contributes to their well-being. Allowing your employees to take paid vacation helps them ease their minds and reduces job stress. Given that, your [PTO] policy must include necessary procedures such as monitoring which will be doing their work when they are on leave not to affect any of the company’s operations and quality of the work.”
The above graph shows the percentage of benefits the employees prefer to be added to their company’s PTO policies. Regina Ihrke, Senior Director and Wellbeing leader at Willis Towers Watson, says,” although most employees [foresee] significant negative impact due the [pandemic], many are [rethinking] and taking [effective measures to stay healthy] and protect their wellbeing.”
More than 77% of employees felt like having access to visual mental health services could be beneficial, while 60% of employees felt that virtual workout routines during work from home could be supportive. Some companies offer employees health and weight management programs to maintain a healthy, nutritious diet, especially during work from home.
When the pandemic hit, many employees started to anticipate new and enhanced PTO policies. Companies like Target, Amazon, and Kroger are providing extra paid time off requests for those who were affected by the coronavirus and those in self-quarantine. Companies like CVS Health, Ally Financial, and Target gave childcare support and caregivers to sick employees to take care of their children and family members. Facebook, Kroger, and JPMorgan Chase provided employees with additional bonuses to ease their employees’ financial stress. Starbucks partnered with Lyra Health and offered mental health sessions for their employees to relieve the job stress. Chipotle, Boeing, KinderCare, and Circle K provided telehealth facilities for their employees by partnering with 98point6.
Company leaders are aware of the impact of world events and the sudden changes that their employees cope with. It is okay not to be okay since companies are trying their best to help their employees deal with burnout with the uncertainty in the air. Company leaders should lead with empathy, and this approach can help them manage employees’ time off requests. Seeing employees’ burnouts in the starting stage can save them from an uninterrupted workflow. Showing employees that you care about their wellbeing has been proven to improve job satisfaction.
Research studies state that 50% of employees leave their previous jobs due to mental stress, which affects their emotional wellbeing. Set boundaries and respect employees’ working hours. 76% of full-time U.S workers have at least one symptom of mental health condition, and the number increased by 29% in 2021. Avoid checking their messages after their working hours and deadlines. While recruiting, keep the PTO expectations at the forefront and implement them flexibly and effectively. Managers need to always keep their doors open to hear out their employees’ problems as it reduces employee attrition significantly. Keep the necessary resources ready and easily accessible by employees at the workplace. Encourage employees to participate in the fitness and mental health programs arranged by the company.