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How to Maximize Your Company’s PTO This Year

In today’s workplace, it’s not uncommon to hear co-workers talk about burnout.

According to a 2021 survey, nearly 80% of U.S. adult workers experienced work-related stress over a single month.1 These respondents reported a lack of motivation and energy, emotional exhaustion, cognitive weariness, and even physical fatigue.

Paid Time Off (PTO) is one of the primary benefits companies offer employees to fight burnout. Yet, despite the best efforts of managers and team leads, many employees don’t take advantage of vacation hours. How can you help your employees get the most out of their benefits? To understand how to maximize PTO, we first need to look at the benefits of taking a vacation and why some employees avoid time off.

Why don’t employees use PTO?

Studies show that regularly overworking makes you less productive, while employees who effectively detach from work are more energetic and resilient.2 However, roughly 769 million PTO hours go unused annually, worth approximately $62.2 billion in benefits.3

Most employees do not understand the full benefits of using vacation hours and don’t believe that mental health is a valid excuse for taking PTO.4 62% of American workers (taken from a study that polled 2,000 workers) worried their bosses would judge them for taking mental health days, decreasing their chances of getting a promotion or making them appear unproductive.5

62% of american workers worry their bosses would judge them for taking mental health days

To avoid this, here are three things you can do to help your employees feel comfortable using vacation hours:

1. Preach the benefits of PTO

To help your teams feel comfortable taking time off, stress the importance of using PTO to disconnect from work and focus on personal goals. Teach them how to make their PTO effective by working on hobbies or traveling rather than using PTO for passive leisure activities.

woman on a hammock in the mountains

One study found that employees who make goals for their vacation are happier than those who don’t.6 Employees who focused on proactive recovery and relaxation spent 24% less time watching TV, napping, or doing nothing and 28% more time socializing with friends and family. Time spent with loved ones is associated with greater happiness.

When employees focus on spending time with others, pursuing hobbies, or traveling, it benefits the company just as much as the individual. According to Harvard Business Review, employees who set vacation goals are more satisfied with their job than those who don’t.7 The bottom line is this: PTO is not a selfish action. Effective vacationers are generally happier, more engaged, and more productive at work.

2. Lead by example

How can you expect your employees to disconnect from work if you never do the same?

One executive found that leaders often say it’s essential to take time off, but many are hesitant to do so.8

What executives say has less of an impact on employee behavior than what they do.

You can set a good precedent for your team by using your PTO and setting clear availability boundaries for yourself during vacation time. After you teach the benefits of PTO and clearly explain the company policy, show your team how to disconnect by taking a trip yourself. Others are more likely to follow when your behavior and company policies align with your values.9

3. Help employees travel with Dónde

This summer, 54% of travel plans were changed due to the cost of a vacation, while 41% of vacationers changed plans due to a lack of available time off from work.10 Managers can help employees use their work hours by reducing the friction of taking a vacation.

That’s where we come in. Dónde helps companies offer travel as a benefit to help employees get out, create memories, and come back refreshed and ready for work.

boat with divers

How does it work?

Employees can use Dónde to explore travel options and decide how they want to use their funds. Our Travel Designers help along the way, assisting employees with the logistics and planning to find the perfect vacation destination.

Then, with the company’s help, employees save for their trip through several reward options. Companies can choose to auto-match employee savings contributions, offer bonuses for events such as holidays, signing bonuses, and tenure, or drive company goals by establishing motivational incentives. Managers can reward and drive employee performance by contributing to their travel plans which, in turn, incentivizes employees to use PTO.

Dónde helps managers encourage employees to take time off from work by planning and working toward an affordable vacation.

Learn more about Dónde today

In a workplace where employees feel constant pressure to perform and work longer hours, vacation time is essential for employee survival.11 Time off from work is associated with higher levels of well-being, increased mindfulness, and reduced stress.

At Dónde, it’s our mission to enable more people to travel by taking down the barriers that stand in the way. Get started today to improve employee productivity, offset the cost of a vacation, and empower workers to take time off. Visit our website to contact us and learn more.

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