More workers are taking PTO as lockdown rules ease

'Unplugging during the summer months can help employees manage the burnout of these pandemic times'

More workers are taking PTO as lockdown rules ease

Requests for paid time off are on the rise after governments gradually eased COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in May. But the number is still lower than figures from a year ago, a new report suggests.

Only one in four employees (24%) asked for time off last month, compared with nearly two in five (38%) who went on PTO in the same period last year, a study from HR software group Namely found.

This represents an uptick in the number of people who are finally stepping out of their homes for a much-needed break amid the pandemic. In April, only 18% of workers requested PTO.

Read more: Are your employees taking their summer vacation?

Overall, the numbers started to decline when stay-at-home orders were announced in March – just as the outbreak was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.

These trends prove how COVID-19 has thrown people’s work-life balance off kilter, according to Madeline Laurano, founder of advisory firm Aptitude Research.

But going on PTO can help employees to recharge during these critical times.

“While it might feel like taking paid time off doesn’t make sense right now, unplugging during the summer months can help employees manage the burnout of these pandemic times,” Laurano said. “In fact, it can actually result in improved productivity and employee engagement.”

Read more: Vacation shaming: Are your staff being guilt tripped?

Namely, for its part, suggests establishing well-defined PTO policies and a hassle-free process for requesting vacation leave.

“With travel restrictions in place, it might seem counterintuitive to take time off; however, taking a break from work can be restorative,” said Larry Dunivan, CEO of Namely.

Dunivan is setting an example for other leaders in reassuring workers that taking time off is not only an option but also a necessity. The company introduced two more holidays and will offer summer hours in July and August.

“With so much uncertainty in today’s workplace, a clearly stated vacation policy with an automated approval process helps employees feel empowered to take the time they’ve earned,” Namely said.

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