No matter the season, taking paid time off (PTO) is something that employers should encourage to ensure that employees are able to rest periodically, recharge, and reset. However, PTO has become ever more important amid the COVID-19 pandemic. While many employers and workers have embraced a new normal of remote working practices in 2020, employees have experienced a unique dynamic of both relaxing flexibility and hidden health hazards.

So, how can employers best encourage team members to take accumulated PTO during the COVID-19 pandemic? Here are a few best practices to consider during this sensitive season.

Be Transparent

COVID-19 has affected us all in various ways. One of the best things you can do upfront is to be as transparent as possible with your employees by showing you care, checking in daily or weekly, and always showing them how valued they are. While keeping productivity high should also be your priority, there’s a careful balance to employee motivation with work and reminding employees of the importance of stepping away for personal or family time as needed.

Provide Clarity

Especially if you’re getting lots of questions or if things seem unclear regarding PTO policies, it’s essential that you are clear and upfront regarding your current time-off policy, any pertinent government or health guidance, and the possibility of redefining vacation time if necessary. If you notice that your employee handbook seems outdated due to COVID-19’s impact on the workforce, it is imperative that you update your handbook in order to avoid potential workplace discrimination, misunderstandings, or other issues.

Promote Self-Care

Employee wellness is essential to the success of your workforce, so make sure to promote self-care as much as possible. Whether it’s partnering with local gyms or spas, there are numerous ways to encourage employees to take the time they need and to look out for their physical and emotional health—especially PTO days.

Be an Example

Above all, set the example you want your employees to follow. If they see leadership avoiding PTO days, they might be reluctant to step away themselves. Finally, as the holidays are approaching, it will be important to help model for employees a healthy balance of unplugging from work. Additionally, the holidays are a great opportunity to work together with your teams to evaluate proper staff coverage along with time-off requests.

Relax, We’re Here for You

All in all, working remotely doesn’t mean never unplugging from work. If you need some guidance for helping your staff, especially those with children at home, we’re here to advise. Contact us today to learn how LBMC Employment Partners can help you in a variety of ways—from updating employee handbooks and policies to so much more.