Benefits & Comp 3 min

3 Ways To Give Employees the Gift of Time Away

December 26, 2014

This time of year—when many of us are off spending time away from work and being with those we love most—is a great time to reflect on your employees and determine if they’re taking the time away from work they need. Of course, it seems counter-intuitive to think keeping your people out of the office and on vacations will increase productivity, but that’s exactly what study after study is finding.

Not only for productivity, but also your employees will feel better about their jobs and they’ll want to stick around longer. And of course, there are health reasons why that time away helps the company—less sick days and stress-related illnesses.

Here are three ways you can get creative with managing paid time off (PTO) that will allow your employees to actually use it:

1. Reward with time. We talk a lot at BambooHR about how motivating it is to be recognized and even rewarded for doing great work. One great—and nearly free—way to reward your people for great work is by giving them time. You can give employees a long lunch, suggest they take off a little early from work or even give an extra paid day off.

Often your employees love giving back to the community, so give them time away from work mixed with fulfilling service for an ultimate feel-good experience.

2. Give a mandatory extra holiday. So yeah, we know it doesn’t matter how much paid vacation time you give your employees, some of them simply won’t take the time. They either worry they’ll seem like slackers for being away, worry about the work not getting done or even about the pile they’ll come back to after they take their time off. Worse, they worry that if they’re taking those offered vacation days, they’ll be passed up for a promotion by someone who didn’t take time off.

One way around this is by offering mandatory days off—like all those school holidays kids get off from school. Give office time off for everyone on those President Days, extra days around Thanksgiving or Christmas, Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday, or even obscure holidays. When I was growing up in Illinois, we got school off for Casimir Pulaski Day. If your people have children (and probably some of them do), letting your people take some of these extra days will allow them to spend more time with loved ones without making them feel like coworkers are getting ahead. And your people will know you’re devoted to their whole-life happiness, not just their job satisfaction.

Of course, if you can’t shut down the whole office, give your people options: Why not have half the office take off the day before Thanksgiving and the others take the time off after?

3. Pay your people to take their time off doing cool things. Ever heard of companies that actually pay or reimburse their employees to take a fun vacation? Well, it’s starting to happen a lot more now. Employers are realizing that it’s not just about the time away, but doing cool, fun things promote unwinding and de-stressing. And your people will know that your company feels strongly they should be using their paid time off and are backing up their story by paying them to use it.

Of course, your company benefits from a pay-for-vacation policy as well. It’s a great tool for recruiting and encourages your employees to let others help fulfill their job. They’ll document processes, share their knowledge and let others fill in—which will also help in the long run when unexpected things pop up.

These are just three ways you can get creative to make sure your people are taking the time off they need to be better employees—which benefits your company as much as it benefits them!

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