Vacations are so important and last week I posted a message on LinkedIn about it as I headed away for a week off. The time off allows you to relax, reflect, and refresh. PTO is vital for your mental health, and likely for your peers as well.
At Searchspring, we have taken some unique approaches to encourage people to take time off, whether it is a vacation or a staycation. The reason for this is that over 50% of vacation goes unused. Worse, if your company offers unlimited vacation, then the amount used is likely even less. We operate with an open PTO policy (unlimited) where legally allowed and, knowing the shortcomings of such policies, we have enacted our own ways to measure and encourage.
The first is to remove the stigma or guilt that employees often feel. Going away can be difficult for some – they are leaving work for team members to handle and they fear that time away will be more detrimental than powering through. Removing guilt isn’t easy and it is subtle things that make it easier. From my personal perspective, it is ensuring that I take vacation and make sure everyone knows that I am doing so. Leading by example is vital for this particular type of thing.
The second is measuring and showing how much time we are not using. To do this we target that each employee, on average, will use three weeks of vacation and then measure it quarterly and show the company the available versus the used. Highlighting that we don’t want any unused time helps to encourage employees that it is safe and appropriate to take their time off.
The reason I truly enjoy vacations is because they are experiences with my children and my best ideas have always come while away from work. It doesn’t matter if we are snorkeling somewhere cool or hanging out with family or friends at their house. Getting away from work opens your mind and the downshift from only thinking about work is powerful. I returned from last week’s vacation with a head full of ideas and a mountain of energy.
As leaders it is vital we encourage employees to take their time off. As employees it is vital that you take the time off. There simply is no substitute.