Vacation time can be a polarizing subject for employers. Employers are always reticent to pay for someone to not do their job. Employees, on the other hand, quite enjoy having the time off when it doesn’t impact their salary.
However, we suggest reframing how you think about vacation time and PTO. Instead of thinking of it as a grudging obligation, think of it as a powerful tool for recruitment, retention, and performance! Let’s take a look at how you can use vacation time to improve both the culture and, believe it or not, output of your business.
Vacation Time is Extremely Valuable
As a Benefit
You should look at vacation time the same way you look at any other benefit you offer your potential hires and current employees. In fact, PTO is one of the most highly regarded benefits that an employer can provide… often trumping medical, retirement, and even salary benefits – especially in the minds of younger employees. It is commonplace for employers in competitive markets that aren’t able to offer a higher salary to use vacation time as a tool to keep up with their competitors.
Realizing that vacation time is just as valuable as a benefit as any other will help you leverage it to the fullest.
As a Bonus
Because employees value paid time off so highly, it can make an outstanding incentive or bonus that won’t impact your bottom line like a cash bonus would. A simple contest, such as “whoever has the most productive team this month gets an extra day off” can light a massive fire under your employees, and inspire them to be more productive than ever before.
Consider using PTO as an:
- End of the year bonus
- Competition winner incentive
- Benchmark completion reward
- Negotiation tool at the hiring table for time spent with the company
You’d be surprised at how hard people work to earn a day that they don’t have to work at all!
As a Boost
A couple of extra days off can dramatically improve the mood, wellbeing, output, and motivation of an employee – all while decreasing their stress and greatly reducing burnout.
American work culture is unique in the West. Working to exhaustion, putting in extra time, and completely neglecting a reasonable work/life balance is the norm in the American workplace, and it leads to a startling amount of unhappiness and unproductivity. Over time, and with enough employees feeling the crunch, you’ll find that your workforce has turned into a stressed out, miserable lot at best… and a bunch of quiet-quitters at worst.
It’s Not Without Some Caveats, However
As we mentioned above American work culture is different… which presents one of the major issues with vacation time. No matter how much you offer, some employees won’t take all of their days. Some don’t want to, some are afraid to, and some are so inundated with work that they simply can’t In fact, most employees only take about half of their allotted days off.
Some Employees Don’t Want Days Off
These are generally your type A, overtime, logging in early and staying late types. These employees enjoy the grind and simply don’t see a point in taking days off. This may sound great, but it can present a few issues:
- These employees are unable to be incentivized with PTO
- They often work themselves to the point of becoming unproductive or malcontent
- Their poor work-life balance leads to off-the-job problems that can cause on-the-job issues
- Everyone NEEDS a day off here and there for their mental health. Since these types won’t take it, they are more likely to suffer from the effects of stress.
You can’t force people to take PTO, but in this case, you should definitely discuss the benefits with this type of employee. Since they are generally some of your hardest workers, you’ll want them fresh and happy!
Some Employees are Afraid to Take Days Off
Many employees see taking days off as a potential indicator to their bosses that they aren’t committed to the job, and will refrain from much needed PTO because of this. Fear of missing out on a promotion when competing with a co-worker that takes no days off, or fear of missing important assignments/meetings that will hamper their ability to advance their career can discourage folks from taking advantage of their vacation time. Similar to the folks above, these people simply won’t value PTO much for that reason.
Consider fostering a culture with your middle management teams of not just acceptance of the benefits of vacation, but encouragement for employees to take it whenever possible.
Some Employees Just Can’t Take Days Off
These types of employees may desperately want a day off more than anything else, but are simply unable to because they fill a critical role in your business. These are generally the higher ups at a company – and these folks need time off just as much as anyone else.
This is a problem for the worker but it also exposes a crucial vulnerability in your business. No person should be so crucial to your day-to-day operations that they are unable to miss a day. Fortunately, the solution for both problems is the same: hire someone that can share in that person’s responsibilities, or diffuse that person’s responsibilities among other current employees.
Vacation Time Can Be a Valuable Tool… If You Leverage It!
We hope you found this information on vacation time informative, and we hope it helped you change your perspective. We hope both you and your employees have some great vacation time planned over the holidays. Give us a call or fill out the form below if there’s anything we can do to help in the meantime!