By: Marigrace McKay on May 19th, 2017

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Prevent Employee Burn-Out Problems By Encouraging Paid Time Off

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Paid leave is traditionally an employer optional benefit – but, arguably the most important and beneficial employee benefit a company can offer.

All employees, leaders alike, need to take time off from work from time to time. It's important to step away and enjoy good weather, family, hobbies, and interests. Why?

Well, for starters, it is good for an individual's mental health and 2) it boosts the economy.

Another benefit is when employees take time off, they return to work with improved focus and creativity. Improved focus and creativity contribute to enthusiasm, good teamwork, quality of work to name a few. These attributes are exactly what employers need and want from their workforce.

Yet, it's surprising that Americans don't typically use all of their vacation. We find that with our clients who offer unlimited PTO, employees actually tend to take less than a traditional paid leave package of 2-4 weeks. 

What we have found is for many company cultures where the ‘nose to the grindstone’ becomes the norm, they actually end up reaping negative consequences over time.

These consequences of employee burn-out show up in several ways, for example:

  • quality mistakes
  • inaccurate problem solving
  • weak relationships and communications
  • impatience and
  • fatigue

Then, my colleagues and I at Helios tend to be brought in to help our clients improve their employee engagement and experience.

How to Encourage Employees to Use Their Vacation Time

The problem of unused leave is one in which leaders of HR and Operations can improve upon together to have a major impact on the productivity and overall health of the organization. 

Techniques to encourage employees to take time off are offered below:
  1. Build a summer calendar where employees can see each others’ planned time off. This enables managers to more easily re-arrange schedules so that important work doesn’t get dropped nor fall behind schedule.
  2. Publish the company’s holiday schedule and encourage employees to add vacation days around those designated holidays. For instance, at Helios, we close our office the week between Christmas and New Year's to give everyone the opportunity to slow down and refresh for a great start to the new year.
  3. When concluding an important project or significant milestone, encourage employees to reward themselves by taking a well-earned vacation day.
  4. Accept paid time off as a normal course of business – not a big deal exception. Employees should not feel sheepish or guilty about being away from work for pleasure, family and outside interests. You know the saying, "work hard, play hard"!
  5. Give talking points to executives and managers to help generate conversation with employees by inquiring on planned vacations and memory-making, special time with family.
  6. Have a productivity challenge where you raffle off a company-paid weekend getaway or an extra vacation day at Thanksgiving, for example.
  7. For employers who are unable to offer a robust paid leave package, consider having designated days to have some fun for your team in-house such as pot-luck lunches, an ice cream party, BBQ cookout, fantasy football party, or a community service volunteer day to relax together. 

Vacations and time off from work is good and healthy for everyone. Encourage a relaxed, rested and newly invigorated employee to come to work by ensuring they take time off from work by using the company benefit of paid leave.