Encourage PTO Use for May: Mental Health Awareness Month

by May 5, 2021Uncategorized0 comments

It’s been over a year since the entire world shut down, and finally there’s a light at the end of the tunnel – but we aren’t out of the woods just yet.

Employees are burnt out at exponential levels, whether they’ve been on the front lines (shoutout to essential workers!) or trying to manage the struggles of working from home.
With long hours and no place to go, employees have been accumulating time off and not taking it. Now, your employees may be reaching their PTO caps and not taking time off to relax and refresh.
This is a problem we’re seeing with our clients, so we put our heads together with our favorite HR consulting firm, Total Package Professional Services, to brainstorm some solutions for addressing high PTO balances and mental health. Much thanks to them for their awesome ideas!
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so now is a perfect time to take advantage of our six ideas for encouraging PTO use. (And check out this guide from the National Alliance on Mental Illness for ideas on breaking the stigma around mental health.)
  1. Suspend caps entirely or increase the caps temporarily. Consider suspending or increasing the cap for 3-6 months, then re-evaluate according to the regulations in your area. This way employees don’t feel they are losing out due to circumstances outside of their control. Keep in mind though that once PTO is earned, it has to be paid.

  2. Develop a mandatory PTO policy. You could require employees to take a certain amount of time off. This will help with planning and issues of flooded time off requests when things open up. If everyone is required to take PTO, managers can plan ahead to address the work.

  3. Provide some additional paid days off to boost employee morale. You could provide paid Friday’s off or close the office mid-day once in awhile. You could also provide these benefits on a rotating basis by team or department. By doing so you can remove the guilt from taking time off, encourage employees to take a break and ultimately boost morale. Employees want to know you care about their mental health.

  4. Ask leadership to set an example. Employees will feel more comfortable taking time off if they see their leaders doing so. No one’s taking PTO if the CEO or a direct manager is working 15 hour days.

  5. Develop messaging around the importance of taking PTO. Ultimately it’s there to reduce the risk of burnout, support physical and mental health, and increase productivity. Sometimes just a reminder can trigger employees to take vacation.

  6. Create a guide of what to do with PTO time. Help employees reframe what time off could look like. They might be thinking of palm trees or adventure parks, but you can remind them that PTO and vacations can include long weekends, taking a day in the middle of the busy work week, marinating in their backyard with a good book, going on a bike ride, and more. 
There’s no right answer and every organization has unique needs, but your employees have been working hard and probably not taking time to care for themselves. Show them you appreciate their hard work by showing them you care about their whole self.

About Catherine Mattice Zundel

Catherine Mattice Zundel, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

[CASE STUDY] Transforming Organizational Culture

We recently put together a case study regarding one of our clients, Rainbow Municipal Water District (RMWD), and thought we’d share it in case you were looking for ideas on improving your own workplace culture. The HR Manager and Executive Director came into a...

Are You Effectively Managing Performance?

Happy Wednesday!   This week we’re sharing an interview I did with my friend and business coach, Karie Kaufmann, on the topic of Managing Workplace Behaviors Beyond Job Performance.   We discussed how employees are often promoted to management positions because they...

9 Tips for Increasing Psychological Safety at Work

Civility Partners has been talking about psychological safety since its inception, and we’ve been doing training on topics like being an ally to others, and building positive and safe work environments, for over a decade. Even our first training programs focused on...

[Webinar] End Your Week With Allyship

First and foremost, I want to acknowledge our team member, Rebecca Del Secco, who was a top five finalist in the Employee of the Year category at the Business Excellence Forum and Awards (BizX). BizX is a global event with speakers like Seth Godin and Marcus...

Encourage PTO Use for May: Mental Health Awareness Month

It’s been over a year since the entire world shut down, and finally there’s a light at the end of the tunnel - but we aren’t out of the woods just yet. Employees are burnt out at exponential levels, whether they’ve been on the front lines (shoutout to essential...

11 Ways to Celebrate Women’s History Month

Last month we sent out a list of 12 ways to celebrate Black History Month with your workforce. Now that it’s Women’s History Month, we’ve revised the list for you. In addition to the list below, I also suggest attending a webinar I’m doing with an employment law...

Celebrate Women’s Month by Addressing COVID’s Impact on Women

Do an internet search on the impact of COVID for women, and you’ll find many (hundreds? thousands?) articles from high-powered consulting firms, respected journalists and media venues, bloggers, vloggers, social media influencers, your neighbors, cousins, and working...

27 Employer Branding Ideas for Social Media

Recently my friend, Steve Bellach from Bottomline Marketing, and I did a webinar on employer branding. Employer brand is just like your customer brand, but rather than focused on customers, it’s focused on potential candidates out there in the world and current...

3 Things You Didn’t Know About Teasing

I love a good sarcastic and witty comment. The resulting laughter is good for the soul and for the team – it promotes happy hormones and bonding. Teasing others often signals liking and (work appropriate) affection. If you tease a co-worker in the right ways, it...

12 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month With Your Workforce

Black History Month is meant to recognize the contributions this community has made to the United States and reflect on our country’s continued struggle with racial injustice. It’s a time for everyone - whether you identify as Black or not – to think about how to...