Pent-Up PTO: 7 Ways to Manage Your Team's Summer Vacation

July 5, 2021
By Clea Badion

After a year of lockdowns, travel restrictions, and fewer travel opportunities, most of us are ready for a vacation. Because trips and vacations were limited during the pandemic, your staff may have a lot of pent-up PTO (paid time off) at their disposal – and, understandably, be excited to use it.


At the same time, many businesses are ramping back up – or maybe they never slowed down – making it hard to have multiple staff members vacationing at once.

How can you ensure employees get much-needed time off work while also keeping your business running smoothly? Here are some suggestions:


1. Set a clear PTO policy


Communicate your vacation policies to your team, so there are no surprises. Let them know:

  • How far in advance they need to ask for time off

  • If there are any time or date limitations on summer vacations

  • How they should prepare before their vacation to cover their work

Be as specific as possible with your vacation policy, but also emphasize that you understand everyone needs a break and, if possible, you’ll try to accommodate everyone’s vacation schedule.


2. Assess your business needs


Determine how much work your team has over the next few months. Are there more projects than usual? What are the deadlines? If one or two weeks are especially busy, you might consider asking that no one travel at that time except in emergencies.


3. Talk to your team


Reach out to every staff member and ask about their summer vacation plans. For example, if 10 of 15 employees plan to be out of the office the last week of July, ask if anyone can shift their plans a week back or forward. Offer incentives – additional PTO, for example – for those who can move their trips.


4. Allow PTO to roll over


If your current PTO policy requires team members to use all their PTO in one calendar year or lose it, consider adjusting the rules so employees can roll over their PTO to the following year. When people don’t feel pressured to use all their PTO before the end of the year, they may spread out trips or be willing to reschedule their vacation plans.


5. Be creative


One employee’s vacation can be an opportunity for professional development for another team member. For example, a junior sales team member could take over for a more senior sales rep who is on vacation and build their skills in the process. Just be sure not to overload the person covering for the vacationing employee. No one should have to double their typical workload.


6. Bring in help


Maybe employees taking a vacation a specific week can’t reschedule their time away – they may be attending weddings or visiting an ill relative. In these situations, you might need to adjust workloads or consider hiring temporary staff to assist with projects that overload your current team.


7. Be an example


If you take time off, your employees will feel it’s okay to do the same. While you don’t want every person on your staff to be away over the same two weeks, it is important to encourage time off. A burned-out team is less productive, and you risk losing burned-out workers to other companies.


Remember to tread carefully when you set limits on people’s vacations: After a year or more of not seeing family and friends or getting away from home, employees (and managers!) need a break. Vacations are an antidote to burnout, so be as flexible as possible and bring in help if you need it.



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Clea Badion is a copywriter, social media manager, and corporate blogger from the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s been writing about career and workplace trends for over a decade, specializing in blogging, website content, ghostwriting, thought leadership pieces, executive speeches, and presentations.

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