12 effective tips for managing PTO policy at the end of the year

Between work projects, vacations, and losing track of time in general, the end of the year is quickly approaching if one isn’t paying close attention. For businesses in particular, the end of the year is a time usually spent making sure clients and customers are well taken care of, but leaders should also remember to check in with their team members.

Time away from work is essential to maintaining work-life balance, so if PTO requests and reminders are not part of established vacation processes, a company risks employee burnout. To help leaders implement effective vacation policies, 12 businesskinda.com Business Council members share their recommendations for managing team PTO at the end of the year.

1. Set leisure time expectations early

Set time off expectations at the beginning of the year to ensure there is some kind of cadence that employees use their PTO for. You want your team to be rested, refreshed and inspired. PTO tends to be a use-it-or-lose-it benefit, so regular reminders are important to ensure that PTO is not only used throughout the year, but also staggered to ensure the team is running at its best year-round can function. – Cindy Diffenderfer, Orion Haus Homes and Hotels Inc.

2. Provide detailed PTO policy

Create clear policies that explain exactly what happens to unused time off at the end of each calendar year. Then have your managers and directors send regular emails during the slower seasons to remind and encourage team members to take their PTO. – Kelly Highney, Bug bite thing

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3. Have discussions about the importance of free time

It’s important to talk to your team members about the importance of taking time off throughout the year, even if it’s a staycation. The more you let your team know it’s okay to take time off and take time for themselves, the more comfortable they’ll feel about it. – Brian City, michigan creative

4. Offer flexible PTO policies

Flexible and unlimited PTO is a great approach as it gives employees more autonomy. Employees are more likely to be satisfied at work and more committed to their jobs if they believe their employers value their time and effort and are willing to offer them time off when they need it. It also generates trust and accountability in the process. – Dustin Lemick, Brite Co

5. Promote a healthy work-life balance

With all the talk of burnout and quitting quietly, it’s more important than ever that we see PTO as a critical opportunity to balance work and private life. Therefore, as leaders, we must support our teams and encourage them to use PTO as a way to rest, recharge and spend time with their families and loved ones. It is also important for leaders to take PTO so that we practice what we preach. – Jeffrey Roche, Core education PBC

6. Lead by example

In our recent questionnaire about the Great Resignation, 89% of those who quit last year cited burnout as the main reason. A digital world means work follows us everywhere, making it hard to disconnect. Leaders need to lead by example and take time off to create a culture where employees are encouraged to recharge their batteries. Measuring employee success should focus on the quality of the work, not the time put into it. – Michael Hansen, Cengage group

7. Hold employees accountable for meeting goals

It’s all about managing teams to achieve their committed results and holding people accountable. When your team meets business goals, PTO is less of an issue. When people take PTO and miss targets, they need to be held accountable. You don’t want a culture of bad integrity. – Danny Parsons, Thoughtful

8. Regularly collect data on individual workloads

To manage team PTO before the end of the year, make sure you gather information from everyone about what they’re working on, how long each project is expected to take, and how many vacation days they’ve already taken (if any). Then use that data to plan who needs to work when. – Udi Dorner, Set Schedule

9. Examine PTO as part of quarterly evaluations

Managers should look at time off during quarterly reviews. If someone hasn’t taken the time, we encourage them to do so, and because we have a very team-oriented culture, team members also encourage colleagues to take the time and support them while they’re away. Our office also closes between Christmas and New Year to ensure everyone has time off with family. – Aimee Master, Madison Taylor Marketing

10. Simplify the PTO request process

Make requesting time off simple by automating request and approval. Help your employees unplug by starting their vacation in the easiest way possible with a streamlined time off management process. – Marilisa Barbieri

11. Communicate Blackout days in advance

We believe that our team performs best when they have a consistent schedule and use the time off they have earned. As a small business, it’s hard to find time around shopping holidays. We’ve found that communicating the blackout dates around this holiday season at the beginning of the year prompts everyone to put in their requests. We look at who needs their time and ask them to do so by the end of the year. – Jeff Giagnocavo, Gardner’s Mattress & More

12. Be proactive

Be proactive by not making it a year-end issue. Remind people of PTO balances on a monthly basis and use quarterly check-ins to discuss personal wellness and the need to recharge. While you may be tempted to force people to take time off at the end of the year, it is not your responsibility to enforce it. Give people the choice and let them define their own lives, while at the same time giving them the opportunity to express their needs. – Chris McGrath, appreciated Inc.