How to encourage employees to take PTO

37% of employees prefer paid time off to a pay rise

How to encourage employees to take PTO

About 37% of employees prefer paid time off over pay raises, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And while 57% of workers participate in their company's health plan benefit, indicating a 78% take-up rate, Bloomberg reports that only 48% of employees utilize all their vacation days.  

Some individuals feel compelled to work constantly, possibly due to the expectation set by managers who view taking vacations as a sign of weakness or “a lack of commitment to their career”, said Bryce Sanders, president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. In such cases, company culture may not promote or emphasize the importance of time off.  

So, how do you encourage your employees to use their PTO? Sanders outlines a few strategies.  

Transparent policies 

Ensure that your vacation policies are clear and easily comprehensible. Vacation and time-off discussions should not be hushed conversations. The company should openly promote time off as a benefit.  

Longevity benefits 

Consider linking more years of service to additional vacation time. Establish a service requirement aligned with the number of paid vacation days—an additional benefit. According to the BLS, after 10 years, 33% of workers receive 15-19 vacation days, while 23% enjoy 20-24 days, equivalent to three or four weeks off. 

Regular scheduling discussions 

Prevent year-end congestion in a "use it or lose it" culture by encouraging early vacation planning. Highlight time off as a benefit and urge employees to plan in advance, especially for parents who may want to align vacations with their children's school breaks. 

Vacation savings accounts 

While your company may not offer a vacation savings plan, local community banks might have such offerings. Inform employees about these local options, as some may struggle with saving for future vacations. 

Cash vacation benefit  

In a competitive job market, consider offering a cash vacation benefit to attract and retain talent. Many employers have already adopted this approach, as reported by CNBC. 

Corporate travel benefits 

Even if you don't provide a cash vacation benefit, explore the possibility of offering employees access to your negotiated rates with hotel chains. Discuss this option with your travel department. 

Vacation stories 

Encourage employees to share their vacation experiences, photos, and tips on finding great travel deals. These stories can inspire other workers to take time off. 

Paid time off is a valuable benefit that not only allows employees to return to the workplace refreshed, but can also contribute to improved staff retention, Sanders said.