Do Your Employees Have the Summertime Blues?

This summer, you may be struggling with managing too many employees trying to take a vacation at the same time. In a typical year, employees spread out their vacation requests. Even before Covid, (1) 55% of Americans did not use all their paid vacation time. Thanks to Covid, 72% of Americans did not take a summer vacation. (2) With vaccine distribution and lower Covid restrictions, people want to get away from it all, and they want to go now.

We are working with our clients to examine and update their PTO policies. It is vital for the entire leadership team to understand the policy and to communicate to employees clearly. Laws vary by state, and every business has different considerations regarding seasonality and staffing, but here are some ideas to help keep employees healthy and happy:

  1. Be honest with everyone. The Covid pandemic created unusual circumstances. Ensure your employees that you want them to take vacations, and you will provide reasonable solutions across the entire team.
  2. Determine how you will grant requests. Will vacations be scheduled on a first-come-first-serve basis? Will approvals be based on seniority? Will you have a random drawing to determine who can pick first?
  3. Align duties to coordinate who can be out during the same time. Which employees have junior or senior team members that can alternate vacations so that they don’t overlap?
  4. Set the number of employees in the same department or location that can use PTO at the same time. For example, encourage your U.S. employees to take more time off during the Thanksgiving holiday, while your U.K. employees take more time around their upcoming bank holidays.
  5. Encourage shorter vacations: If employees take one week vs. two-week vacations, will that enable all employees to take time off this summer?
  6. Offer additional future PTO days to employees who delay plans. For example, consider giving employees additional time off, such as 2 or 3 PTO days, if they delay their summer vacation to the fall.
  7. Remove a limit on employees’ PTO accrual. Again, the laws vary by state, but you can enable employees to roll over more days.
  8. Thank employees who volunteer to move their vacation with gift certificates to a spa or online retailer.
  9. Use creative solutions. Do you have an employee that has been wanting to go to your Chicago office? Perhaps they can work from Chicago for a few weeks. They get out of their daily surroundings, continue to work, and have a chance to explore another city.
  10. Leverage the Christmas holiday season. Many people did not see their families or loved ones last year, and they may be looking forward to an extra-festive, extra-long holiday vacation this year.

Do you need to update your HR policies? Feel free to reach out to us here.


James Harwood