Employers' PTO Problem: Employees Working on Vacation

As summer approaches, many employees are planning to use their paid time off (PTO) for vacations, but a growing issue is that they are working during their time off. PTO is considered one of the most important benefits offered by employers, with 81% of HR leaders considering it very important or extremely important, according to the 2024 SHRM Employee Benefits Survey. However, a survey by Harris Poll found that 60% of employees struggle to disconnect from work while on vacation, and nearly half feel guilty about taking time off in the first place.

This constant connectivity can have a detrimental effect on employees’ well-being and may lead to burnout, stress, anxiety, and even depression. In fact, employee stress and burnout are on the rise, with an Aflac report finding that over half of employees are experiencing at least moderate levels of burnout.

Employers can help mitigate this issue by creating a culture of work/life balance and overall well-being. This starts at the top, with managers and supervisors setting an example by not responding to emails while on PTO and encouraging their employees to do the same. Employers can also block employees’ access to their email accounts or messages while on PTO to help divert any temptation to work.

Proper planning and arranging for extra help while employees are on vacation is also important. Managers can create alternate workstreams and have backup plans in place to allow employees to feel comfortable signing off during vacation. It’s also important to ensure clear goals, expectations, and open communication between employees and managers.

Some companies even go a step further by implementing return-to-work procedures to help ease employees back into their work duties after a significant amount of time off. Ultimately, promoting work/life balance and mental health year-round is crucial for employees to feel comfortable taking vacations and fully disengaging from work.

The culture of the workplace also plays a significant role in this issue. Employees are more likely to feel comfortable taking vacations and disengaging from work if their workplace culture encourages them to do so. By addressing the expectation to be always on, companies can help their employees unplug and decompress when out of the office, leading to a happier and more productive workforce.

.st1{display:none}See more