News: Want to prioritise employee happiness? Encourage guilt-free paid time off

Life @ Work

Want to prioritise employee happiness? Encourage guilt-free paid time off

Amidst employees having available Paid Time Off (PTO), many didn't utilise their allocated time off. Surprisingly, more than half of those with remaining days were compelled to forfeit them.
Want to prioritise employee happiness? Encourage guilt-free paid time off

Although disconnecting from work, resting, and reconnecting with loved ones are vital for mental and physical health, the idea of taking paid time off often triggers guilt, discouraging workers from using their vacation days.

A recent survey by CalendarLabs investigates global Paid Time Off (PTO) trends from the past year. Despite an optimal number of days off for the happiest employees, a significant portion feel guilty about utilising their entitled time off and frequently end up working during these breaks.

The survey, covering over 800 employees, reveals that the happiest workers took an average of 15 paid days off last year, whether consecutively or scattered throughout the year. Interestingly, while American employees preferred December for PTO, their UK counterparts favoured July. Globally, Mondays emerged as the favoured day for time off.

Among employees with available PTO, 38% in the US and 23% in the UK didn’t use their allocated time off. Shockingly, over half of those with remaining days had to forfeit them. The concept of unlimited PTO remains contentious, with 43% considering it a questionable policy.

Employee guilt surrounding time off persists: nearly 80% feel guilty about taking PTO, often due to concerns about job security, an impending workload upon return, or burdening colleagues. Consequently, 66% over-prepare before vacations, and 69% remain engaged with work even during their time off.

Hannah Workman from CalendarLabs emphasises the impact of this guilt on well-being and work performance. "To counter this, employers must foster a culture that encourages guilt-free time off," she says. "Promoting breaks, acknowledging mental health significance, and managing workloads effectively can enhance employee satisfaction and productivity."

Encouragingly, companies increasingly trust the effectiveness of employee well-being programs. Additionally, 88% of employees believe that a sense of belonging improves productivity—a sentiment echoed when employees feel valued and secure in logging off as part of their benefits.

Fortunately, the survey highlights employers taking employee guilt seriously. Among the 56% addressing the stigma around taking mental health days off, initiatives include regular check-ins with supervisors, leadership training sessions, open forums, mental health resources, and fostering a mentally healthy workplace.

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Topics: Life @ Work, Employee Relations, #Wellbeing, #HRTech, #HRCommunity

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