Why Aren’t Workers Using Their Earned PTO?

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Why Aren’t Workers Using Their Earned PTO?


46% of American workers take less paid time off than they are offered, per the Pew Research Center.


There are many reasons why employees don’t use all of their PTO. Some of the most common reasons include:


  • Fear of falling behind at work. Many employees worry that if they take time off, they will fall behind on their work and their colleagues will have to pick up the slack. This can be especially true for employees who are in high-pressure or demanding jobs.


  • Negative impact on career advancement. Some employees may worry that their employers will think they are selfish or lazy as a result of taking time off. They try to limit their vacation time so that they won’t be passed over for a promotion or thought to be unqualified for one.


  • A culture that discourages taking time off. Some workplaces have a culture that discourages taking time off. The organization can be understaffed, or management might think that workers who take time off aren’t as dedicated to their employment.


  • A feeling of guilt. Even if they have earned their time off, some employees feel bad about taking it. They may feel like they are letting their colleagues down, or that they are not being productive enough.


  • A lack of communication about PTO policy. Some employees are not clear about how much PTO they have, or when they can take it. As a result, workers may be reluctant to take time off out of concern that they will use up too much or take time off at the wrong time.


Refusing to take time off can lead to dissatisfaction and burnout.


PTO is a great recruiting and retention tool and by addressing these reasons, employers can create a culture where employees feel comfortable taking time off and using their PTO benefits.


Here are some tips for encouraging employees to use their PTO:


  • Set a good example. Managers should model the behavior they want to see in their employees. If managers are taking time off, their employees are more likely to feel comfortable doing the same.


  • Be clear about PTO policy. Employees should know how much PTO they have, when they can take it, and what the consequences are for not using it.


  • Encourage employees to take time off. Managers should regularly remind employees to take time off and encourage them to use their PTO benefits.


  • Make it easy for employees to take time off. Employees should not have to jump through hoops to take time off. The process should be simple and straightforward.


  • Create a culture of trust. Employees should feel comfortable taking time off without fear of being penalized or judged. Employers should create a culture where employees feel supported and valued, even when they are not at work.



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