Although many full-time employees are allowed a set number of PTO each year, only 23% of employees take off all of the time they are entitled to, and 9% take no paid time off, according to an article from CNBC. In 2018, American workers left 728 million vacation days unused, and 236 million of those days were gone completely, resulting in $65.5 million in lost benefits.

Smiling woman working with a tablet in her home officeAlthough companies encourage workers to take time off for their mental health, most workers have a few days left over at the end of the year. Although unused PTO policies vary from company to company, here are some tips to handle those unused PTO balances.

Create a clear, well-defined policy

Employees are less likely to take time off if there’s any grey area when it comes to taking PTO. Employees will need to know deadlines to submit PTO requests and how to prepare for leaving the office to take some much-needed time off.

It also encourages employees to take time off if they’re continually aware of how much time off they’ve accrued. Installing software that has an easy-to-read dashboard featuring accrued time off is a great way to communicate a visual message to employees.

If your company does have a “use it or lose it” PTO policy, and time off does not roll into the next year, be sure to communicate that policy to your employees at the beginning of the year so they can plan ahead.

Discuss workload and expectations

American workers are still scared to take off for their mental health, even though about half of Americans reported experiencing mental health problems due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, 62% of U.S. workers said they’re afraid their boss would judge them for taking a mental health day, according to a study conducted by One Poll. The study went as far as to show that 56% of respondents thought their employer would think they were unable to perform the duties of their position if they took time off for mental health.

In order to break this stigma around taking time off for whatever reason, it’s important to regularly discuss taking time off and workload expectations with your employees. If an employee feels like they will have a manageable workload when they return from time off or won’t feel judged for leaving, it’s more likely time off will used.

We suggest installing robust payroll and HR software to keep employees in the loop about their PTO in an easy, user-friendly way. Visit our website or call 904-596-2847 to learn more.