The Importance of Taking Time Off
Updated: Nov 24, 2022
As we are in the middle of the Thanksgiving holiday week in the U.S., I felt it timely to discuss the importance of taking the time off to focus on family, caregiving, and self-care by using your allotted paid time off (PTO). This is especially important given the current crisis - employees are feeling burned out and more and more time is devoted to work instead of ourselves. One thing I have observed as an HR professional is that employees aren’t comfortable requesting time off – even when it is available to them, so they end up with several unused PTO time at the end of the year.
As a people manager, now is the time to take the opportunity to unplug and recharge and encourage your employees to do the same. If you are a people manager, there are several strategies you can take to ensure your teams are managing their time off appropriately.
I believe one of the most important leadership skills is to model behaviors by demonstrating that you feel strongly about the importance of taking time off. Many people managers are reluctant to take time off for one reason or another, but employees see this and become discouraged to unplug. If you are a people manager, show that you value taking time off by discussing it regularly – whether it is sharing what you did on your time off or asking another employee about their vacation on a team call – this will show that it’s “normal” to get away from the office to recharge and reset. It also shows that taking breaks is part of your company’s culture.
Another important strategy is to provide clear expectations about your company’s time-off policy and to communicate to your team(s) at the beginning of the year (or when you have begun managing a team). Being transparent about your expectations and the company’s policies demonstrates you are able to manage time off fairly and that your team is operating under the same set of principles. It also allows you to manage your employees’ time off to ensure you have the appropriate coverage throughout the year.
Given that much of the workforce is working remotely, it may be helpful for you to redefine what it means to take time off. Most of us still think of time off as a vacation, but there are so many tools we can take advantage of to focus on, such as self-care, family care, hobbies, volunteering, and one of my favorites, napping. This is the time to get creative and shift what your expectations from what a traditional vacation would look like and envision new ways of relaxing.
The definition of time off is often considered as a week; however, it is important to encourage yourself and your teams to take shorter breaks more often. Pick a day or a half day on your calendar here and there and request the time off. Frequent breaks are helpful to refuel our brains and we will come back more effective and efficient. For those of you who work a five-day week, push yourself to take at least one day on the weekend away from anything work related.
Especially amid these uncertain and unpredictable times, employees might not feel safe about their job status, and may require extra encouragement from their managers before trusting they’re safe while being away from the office. By demonstrating your care and concern for your workforce, you’ll reinforce that your people are your most important assets – and that you care about their wellbeing.
From all of us at McGroarty & Co. Consulting, we want to wish you and your families a happy and healthy Thanksgiving holiday. We are truly grateful for all of you!