3 PTO Pitfalls Your Business Should Avoid
The average employee receives 11 days of paid time off per year, according to a 2018 PTO survey by TSheets. But nearly a third of employees surveyed say they get five days or fewer per year, with 16 percent reporting no time off.
If you’re considering making a change to your PTO policies, it’s important to understand how employees use their time off and how policy changes can help or hurt your business in the long run. From what we’ve learned, encouraging employees to take time off when they need it can ensure they’re using it for vacation, holidays, rest, relaxation, recovery, and other personal matters — and coming back to work ready to do their best.
In this post, we’ll share three common PTO pitfalls and explain why you should avoid them for the health and longevity of your employees and business.
1. Working, Not Resting, On Sick Days
We’ve all had those days when work can’t wait, even for a cold. Still, coming to work with an illness because sick leave isn’t available or isn’t taken could be detrimental to your whole team. Unfortunately, it still seems to be very common practice. Among the surveyed employees, the vast majority (89 percent) admitted to putting work before rest when they’re sick. While almost 1 in 5 of them admitted to doing this more than once a month, only 11 percent said they never go to work sick.
It’s a vicious cycle, really. If employees don’t feel empowered to take sick days and end up working with a contagious illness, other members of your team are more likely to fall ill. Not only will this hurt productivity, but it can create stress and decrease morale.
There are two things you can do to ensure that your workforce stays healthy. One is to give employees paid hours to rest and get better. The other is to empower them to do so. Without the pressure to work when they should be seeing a doctor, your employees will be back on their feet faster and nobody will have to be “that guy” who gets their coworkers sick.
2. Staying Plugged in On Vacay
Speaking of employee empowerment, when was the last time you got a work-related email from someone who was supposed to be on vacation? When employees were asked about their time “away” from work, almost two-thirds who took a paid vacation last year admitted to working during their trips.
It may be easier said than done, but unplugging on vacation is the only way to leave work at work and take advantage of time off. You can’t control when and where people decide to be productive, but you can encourage your employees to make the most of their vacations. That means no emails, no online chatting, no calendar invites, and no video conferences.
If an employee has a plan for how they’re going to manage their workload before and after their trip and who’s going to pick up any slack, let them know it’s absolutely fine to unplug. Need another resource? Travel and Leisure provides some useful tips on how to go on a “digital detox.”
3. Paying the Price for Discouraging Time Off
When weighing the pros and cons of creating a more robust paid leave benefit for your team, you must also consider the cost to your business and your employees if you decide to provide less paid time off.
Stress levels have been found to be higher among employees who don’t get PTO. Over half (51 percent) of employees surveyed, who don’t get or use PTO, said they often or always feel stressed. In addition, 58 percent of those stressed respondents describe that stress as “unhealthy.” It’s a well-known fact that stress can cause a myriad of health problems, and once your employees start to get sick — not to mention burned out — productivity surely suffers.
Some companies grant unlimited PTO to encourage employees to take care of their physical and mental health. Inc.com looked at several companies who have unlimited PTO policies to find out the advantages of offering employees time off whenever they need it. Employers cited such outcomes as increased engagement and retention and a more passionate culture based on trust.
Can’t go there quite yet? Simply empowering your employees is key. If you can convince employees their health is your priority, they’ll be more dedicated to their work while they’re on the clock.
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