PTO Balances: Encouraging Employees to Step Away Before the Year Ends

How you can encourage your team to take full advantage of their well-deserved PTO and why it’s important.

by Nikhil Bendre - September 22, 2021

Paid time off is one of the benefits that employees should love to take advantage of. It puts our minds at ease, whether we’re away on a vacation or if life suddenly gets in the way of our plans and we need to take some personal time to figure things out. However, COVID has somewhat skewed our current definition of productivity, therefore affecting how people are using their PTO. Contrary to our initial expectations, the introduction of remote and hybrid work structures has actually resulted in higher productivity, leading to higher burnout. According to Prodoscore, productivity has increased by 47% since March of 2020. This may be attributed to the lack of boundaries between home and work – are we working from home or living at work? Therefore, let’s talk about how you can encourage your team to take full advantage of their well-deserved PTO and why it’s important.

Moving the workforce to a primarily online format definitely has its pros and cons. Aside from proving how interconnected we really are, 24/7 accessibility has proven to have its downsides, mainly because people seem to feel the need to be on stand-by for work at all hours. As HR managers and business owners, it’s our responsibility to look out for our teams, spot signs of burnout, and offer a helping hand. 

Here are some of the advantages of taking PTO! Keep these in mind and communicate them to your employees.

  • Health Benefits: It’s really not a surprise that time off is beneficial to our health. This study from The Lancet has directly linked working long hours to an increased risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. Sitting at a desk for hours on end combined with the stress that can come with the job definitely have their negative long-term effects. Encourage the use of PTO so that your team can implement proper work-life balance!
  • Productivity Benefits: Think about it – we feel more ready for the day after we get a good night’s rest. Similarly, we feel more ready to be productive after we’ve taken some time away for ourselves and recharged our batteries!
  • Creativity Benefits: It is so easy to fall into a rut when working nonstop with no breaks. Things can get mundane very quickly, so taking a break and returning with fresh eyes can result in new perspectives and ideas for work initiatives!

Getting the Most Out of PTO

That being said, what steps can you take to ensure that your employees are getting the most out of their available PTO?

  • Stress that we are heading into Q4.

Especially if your organization does not offer unlimited PTO, remind your team that we are nearing the end of the year and that they should take their time off while it is still available to them!

  • Internally promote your PTO policy.

It’s possible that in the whirlwind of their workload, your team might just forget that they have PTO left to take. They are more likely to take their PTO if the option is kept at the front of their minds.

  • Have company leadership lead by example!

PTO is not just for your team – it’s for you as well! By upper level employees taking advantage of their PTO, your employees are more likely to feel comfortable taking advantage of theirs. Unfortunately, some employees are scared to take time off, as they want to avoid being seen as “slackers.” Show them that if you can do it, so can they, and that nobody will hold that against them.

  • Make the process for requesting PTO as easy as possible by implementing an HRIS!

With GoCo, you can customize your own Workflow to optimize employee PTO requests and make it fit the needs of your specific team like a glove! Also, our Time Tracking Kiosk allows you to keep track of your team’s PTO with no effort at all.

  • Make sure that you are actively discouraging overworking.

The first step to this is understanding that overworking leads to burnout which leads to subpar results. Implement workplace boundaries, such as strictly respecting people’s calendars and declared availability and avoiding working past actual business hours.

  • Instead of focusing on extended vacations, advise your employees to use their PTO for shorter, but more frequent, breaks throughout the working year.

It is imperative that we have the time to recharge when we truly need it, not just on federal holidays or pre-planned trips. 



 With the end of the year quickly approaching, it’s important to remind your team about their PTO if they still have some left. We’ve talked about the benefits of PTO and how you can do your best to encourage it, so we hope that both you and your team are able to get some much-needed rest before your PTO expires (if you don’t offer unlimited PTO) and the next year begins!

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