How to Prepare for the End of Year Surge in PTO

Ah, the holidays. A time of high spirits and good cheer. Unless, of course, unless you’re a supervisor. Then, it’s the time when everyone on your team cashes in their PTO and disappears for weeks at a time.

Of course, not all workers will utilize their allotted PTO. A study from a few years ago showed that around 55% of workers left potential vacation days unused.

Still, with COVID restrictions loosening, many of your team members will be in a position to take a holiday vacation for the first time in years. This could lead to a higher demand for PTO this time around. You’ll have to be prepared.

Here are a few steps you can implement to get ready for the end-of-year surge in PTO:

Remember the Advantages of PTO

An employee’s vacation always feels like a burden when it happens. You have to scramble to fill their position and deal with the impact of a thin staff.

However, don’t view it as an absolute cost. It’s more like an investment.

Workplace stress comes with its own form of expenses. One study identified work-related anxiety as a contributing factor to 120,000 deaths a year. Also, it could be responsible for up to 8% of total healthcare costs.

By taking PTO, your employees alleviate some of this corrosive anxiety. At the same time, they avoid burnout and come back to you refreshed and more productive.

Try to Get as Much Notice as Possible

The sooner you know about a vacation day, the more time you have to plan. This lets you get backups in place and create a system to deal with the absence.

As such, encourage your workers to make plans early. You might even consider an incentive structure. Give extra time off if the PTO is booked sooner.

Manage Your Expectations

Given the number of vacation days coming up, you might not get as much done as you had hoped. You can either be disappointed when this happens or manage your expectations to take the PTO spike into account.

As you plan your output, take vacation days into account. You might be able to get extra production done ahead of the PTO rush. Or you can use a slower period to implement necessary chores, like upgrades and maintenance. With a little forethought, you can get the most out of the situation.

Consider “Buying” Time

Given the problems that come with a sudden spike in PTO requests, maybe it’s best to avoid the problem entirely. Keep them on the job by offering to compensate your workers for PTO days they don’t take.

Many of your employees will likely prefer the extra pay to the day off. It won’t work on everyone. But trading a little cash to avoid the hassle might make sense.

Budget for Overtime

When a large chunk of your team takes a vacation, you’ll have to rely more heavily on the people who are left. That probably means overtime. You can’t get the same amount of work done in the same number of hours with fewer people. The math just doesn’t work out.

This can get expensive, of course. But if your budget for this likelihood, at least you can stay prepared. Knowing the PTO rush is coming, you can set aside funds to make up for some of the lost capacity.

Use a Staffing Agency

Need some temporary help to fill in for all that seasonal PTO? A staffing agency can help. You can get the added capacity you need to deal with thin staffing levels.

A top recruiter, like SmartTalent, can find you the best temporary help available. You’ll find the seasonal workers you need to fill in the PTO-created gaps.

Contact SmartTalent today to find out more.


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