If you're employed in the U.S. and you haven't taken a proper vacation yet, you're in the same boat as the 60%+ of Americans who never take full advantage of their paid time off (PTO). Despite already getting so few days of vacation every year compared to the rest of the world (two weeks vs. three months in some parts of Europe!), Americans are still highly reluctant to use up their PTO.
Why is that?
Research has shown that the majority of Americans are afraid of taking their PTO because they: fear losing their job; are afraid of appearing to be lazy (Wait, what!?); never see anyone else taking their own PTO; and are concerned that others won't be able to fill in for them while they're gone.
This is a sad reality and it's up to companies to encourage their employees to take their PTO and ensure that they are set up for success when they decide to do so. Employees should not be shamed for taking time to create a better work-life balance for themselves, and it's up to team leaders and bosses to help their employees feel confident in leaving for a well-earned vacation.
Overworked employees don't yield positive results and in fact, work against a company's productivity and growth. Studies have shown that employees who work straight through the year without using their PTO are more likely to make mistakes, more likely to mentally "check out," and are generally more stressed from constant work and poor time management.
It's Up to Companies to Break The cycle
Some companies have taken it upon themselves to fix the problem by offering "unlimited PTO" – meaning that companies trust that their employees will get their work done on time, while making their mental and physical health a priority.
So if de-stressing employees and creating a more relaxed work environment isn't enough motivation for companies to encourage their employees to take PTO, then take it from Netflix CEO Hastings, who says that vacations lead to positive results.
"It is helpful. You often do your best thinking when you’re off hiking in some mountain or something. You get a different perspective on things," he says.
Encouraging employees to create a work-life balance is important because not only will employees practice healthier lifestyles, but they'll also be more likely to want to work hard for a company that appreciates and respects them. And the likelihood of an employee leaving a company like that is quite low.
CEOs, Managers, and Junior employees alike: Take your PTO! Go travel to a country you've never been to; go on an epic adventure with friends or family; take time to get outside and cross something off your personal bucket-list, because in the long-run, you'll have something to daydream about, look forward to, and talk about for years to come.
How Companies Can Set Employees Up for Success
Here are some simple ways companies, CEOs and managers can encourage their employees to take their PTO while setting them up for success.
Set a good example by utilizing your vacation. If employees see that you value your personal time and use up your vacation strategically, then they will feel more comfortable taking their own vacation.
Meet with employees to plan their PTO. Set up a meeting to chat with individual employees to make sure they know how much vacation they have and that they are free to use it as they wish.
Cross-train employees. If there are multiple employees who know how to do one job, then each can take his/her vacation knowing someone will be able to cover for them while they're gone.
Be Supportive. Shaming someone for wanting to take some time off of work is unfair and employees should feel supported to pursue things outside of their jobs. Support them by making it easy to use PTO. Work is not everything, and sometimes... we all need to be reminded of that.
In the end, companies can be sure that they will have a more relaxed and dedicated team of employees who are ready to take on challenges to help the company succeed, while employees will have something to look forward to outside of work and will overall feel happier, less stressed and more motivated in all aspects of life!
See how FTLO can help you make excellent use of your next great getaway with a trip to Europe, South America, Africa and more.