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How to Create a Culture that Values and Respects Employees' PTO

How to Create a Culture that Values and Respects Employees’ PTO

How to Create a Culture that Values and Respects Employees’ PTO

Cultivating a culture that honors personal time off is crucial for a healthy work-life balance. We’ve gathered seven insights from co-founders, CEOs, and Chief People Officers on how businesses can value and respect employee PTO. From the importance of leaders modeling work-life balance to celebrating smart work instead of overwork, discover the strategies that can transform your workplace.

  • Model Work-Life Balance
  • Implement ‘Use-It-or-Lose-It’ PTO Policy
  • Communicate Time Off
  • Plan and Share PTO Schedules
  • Encourage PTO Use with Competitive Compensation
  • Empower Autonomy with Delivery-Based Work
  • Celebrate Smart Work, Not Overwork

Model Work-Life Balance

If an organization is looking to create a culture that values and respects employees’ PTO and promotes a healthy work-life balance, it is key that leaders model these beliefs and behaviors from the top. If leaders or managers are routinely responding to emails late at night, on weekends, or on vacation, they may be inadvertently setting the bar and expectations for what it takes to get ahead in the organization—especially if those who go above and beyond and are perpetually overworking are the ones who receive the most visibility and recognition.

Creating a culture that counters this narrative comes back to what leaders model and what behaviors from team members are being recognized and rewarded. Action speaks louder than words, and employees will be far less concerned with what leaders say, but instead, with what leaders do.

Alex SuggsAlex Suggs
Co-Founder and Partner, Different

Implement ‘Use-It-or-Lose-It’ PTO Policy

I’d suggest implementing a ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ PTO policy. This strategy encourages employees to make use of their allocated time off, rather than accumulating unused days.

By setting a clear policy that all PTO must be used within the calendar year, it sends a strong message from management that taking time off is strongly encouraged. That’s where the company’s leaders and managers should lead by example by taking their own PTO and showing the importance of rest and disconnection for their overall well-being and productivity.

Bayu PrihanditoBayu Prihandito
Founder, Psychology Consultant, Life Coach for Men, Life Architekture

Communicate Time Off

I encourage leaders to communicate broadly before taking time off. Alert others on project status and share how you, if you want to be included in things while away, can be reached. If there is something you need to know, ask for a text message. That way, you can unplug from emails and know that you will be included on hot topics.

Donna DechantDonna Dechant
Chief People Officer, AirSculpt

Plan and Share PTO Schedules

Having a well-defined PTO (Paid Time Off) policy is not only an administrative necessity; it serves as the cornerstone for a healthy and supportive work environment. By giving our employees dedicated time for rejuvenation, we not only acknowledge their invaluable contributions but actively invest in their well-being.

I would advise employees to plan their PTOs at the start of the year and share the schedule with their team. This proactive stance not only minimizes disruptions but also ensures a seamless flow of work, allowing everyone to return to the office energized and ready to make meaningful contributions.

Shipra ChoudhuryShipra Choudhury
Chief People Officer, Coastr

Encourage PTO Use with Competitive Compensation

Businesses can create a culture that values and respects employees’ PTO, promoting a healthy work-life balance, by ensuring that employees feel adequately compensated for their engagement and contributions. Engaged employees require a 31 percent pay increase to consider a role with a different organization, emphasizing the importance of offering competitive compensation packages aligned with the value employees bring to the company. By providing competitive compensation, businesses demonstrate that they value their employees’ efforts and recognize the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Moreover, implementing succession planning directly supports a culture that respects employees’ time off. Succession planning ensures organizational continuity and smooth transitions in leadership roles. By identifying and developing potential successors early on, business owners can delegate tasks more effectively, freeing up time for employees to take their deserved PTO without worrying about disruptions in their absence.

This proactive approach mitigates the risk of disruptions due to unexpected departures or vacancies in key positions, allowing businesses to maintain operational efficiency and stability even when employees are on vacation. In essence, by prioritizing succession planning, businesses foster an environment where employees feel valued and respected, encouraging them to take their PTO without hesitation, ultimately promoting a healthier work-life balance.

Michael HurwitzMichael Hurwitz
CEO and Co-Founder, Careers in Government

Empower Autonomy with Delivery-Based Work

A few years ago, we came to the realization that our ‘package’ of health and well-being perks didn’t particularly resonate with our team, and we were essentially being performative rather than seeking a workable solution. We then made the decision to give our employees autonomy over their own work-life balance and mental health needs. We revised staff contracts and created a policy that allowed our staff to work on a delivery-based system, rather than a time-based one.

Furthermore, the necessity of remote working due to the pandemic made this system even more flexible. Now our team can work when and wherever they like, as long as they meet deadlines and maintain an expected quality level. This has empowered team members with specific and sensitive personal issues and responsibilities to conduct their working day as they want to. This approach has been met with hugely positive responses during appraisals, and it has been gratifying to hear how it has really changed their lives for the better.

Ryan StoneRyan Stone
Founder & Creative Director, Lambda Films London

Celebrate Smart Work, Not Overwork

It’s disappointing how many companies celebrate employee overwork, glorifying the non-use of PTO and pushing for more overtime instead of recognizing it as a problem. Not only can a lack of vacation days harm employees’ physical and mental health in the long term, but it can also damage organizational culture and burn out high-potential staff.

As the head of a busy recruiting firm, I’ve made it a point to celebrate ‘smart work’ more than hard work. I believe employees who effectively do their jobs within the set deadlines without spending long hours at the office deserve more appreciation for their skill and time management.

At my company, leaders are trained to identify overworked staff and offer support while consciously setting healthy work-life boundaries for themselves. While monitoring employee workloads has helped us keep this problem at bay, we have the occasional ‘hustler’ who we constantly have to remind to slow down and take a break.

Sudden performance dips in high-potential staff are also a big telltale sign of burnout, so encouraging those team members to avail themselves of their PTO and communicating clearly with them about how we value their well-rested, energetic selves has helped us promote a healthy work-life balance among the team.

Joe ColettaJoe Coletta
Founder & CEO, 180 Engineering

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