PTO. For some people, the acronym for paid time off invokes a mental image of a relaxing vacation, maybe on a beach. For others, the mere thought of it invokes panic.
Why should you take the paid time off you’ve earned? Well, there are a myriad of reasons: it helps you return to work refreshed and ready to get back to working hard, it gives you no-guilt time to unplug, travel, or even get stuff done that you’ve been putting off (schedule that dentist appointment!).
But the ability to take PTO “like a boss,” we think is directly related to feedback and one on one meetings. Let’s dig a little deeper into that idea. Here are three ways PTO is linked to feedback and how you can get better at both this year:
If you’re having a regular rhythm of feedback with your manager, it should be easier to know when and if you can take PTO without feeling guilty or stressed out.
We all earn PTO in one way or another - policies can vary by company, with some offering unlimited PTO as long as you don’t have any outstanding projects, and others accruing endlessly. Some companies employ a “use it or lose it” policy, which could also be frustrating if you feel overworked and overwhelmed.
Meeting regularly with your team or with your manager should give you valuable insight into what’s on the docket for your role - got a big conference coming up? You should have clear expectations for what that period of work looks like, and you already know it might not be a great time for jet setting.
Just finished a big project and it went really well? Maybe your boss takes that opportunity to call out the good you’ve just done - running a tight ship in the organization department, nailing the marketing campaign, or getting really great client feedback - and encourages you to take a few days for yourself, and crack open a leadership development book, because they see how you’re growing towards greater success and future leadership in your role.
The bottom line is, talk with your manager or team regularly and find out how your work and your life fit together. It isn’t fair - or sustainable - for a company to expect that you never have things you want to do outside of work. But with regular feedback and one on ones, you can figure out a plan that encourages you to take time when you need it that maximizes the value you bring to your role.
The ability to take PTO gracefully and without leaving your team in the lurch is related to your work habits.
Hear us out for a second - how many times have you taken PTO and then spent a good chunk of time checking your work email or responding to “emergencies?” A survey by Turnkey revealed that over half of U.S. workers reported feeling guilty about taking their vacation time—and over 70% said they checked in with work regularly while they were away.
Creating healthy work habits - everything from organization to what you put in your out of office message - can be the key to enjoying your PTO and resting up to come back ready to work hard. Before you leave, make sure you’ve already crossed off “procedures for how to do____” off your list, especially if you’re the go-to person. That way, someone else can step in and take it off your plate!
For a team that works cohesively, it’s a joy to take on something extra for a few days so someone can enjoy their time off because you know that they’ll repay the favor later. Getting ahead of work you can schedule ahead (like social media posts, or payroll slips) will give you some peace of mind. But also communicating with your boss about the need to take time off can open up space for productive conversations about your workload or how things are going in general. A conversation about a PTO request can turn into a valuable conversation about balancing work and personal life and how leaders are successful at it, too.
And while you’re at it, put something in your out of office message that reminds people you are investing in time off so you can come back stronger, and then commit to turning off your email app while you’re away! This is also a great way to demonstrate leadership in stewarding your time well - how you are at work is almost just as important as how you are when you’re not there.
Enjoying your PTO fully means you have to give feedback and build trust - all things built in your one-on-one meetings.
As mentioned above, you may have to let go of a few things and hand them off to someone else to take your PTO “like a boss.” Make sure this is part of your regular check-ins - is there someone who might be a great #2 person for certain parts of your role and you can start mentoring them? Or is there something you’d like to get better at so you can practice leading when someone else needs to be away?
There are endless opportunities for others to step up and lead when someone else is gone. But that also involves trust. And the only way you build trust is by having open and transparent conversations with two-way feedback. You might also find that it’s a good time to have conversations about processes that could be optimized or are broken when someone else steps in and sees it with fresh eyes. When you get back, start by thanking your manager or team for investing in your growth by championing time away for everyone at some point, and be open to hearing what was a win and what could be better.
No matter what, don’t be afraid to ask for PTO. One huge way your organization shows they value you is by showing you that they want you to stay - and an overworked person is much more likely to leave a job than anyone else.
Research also shows that time off from work boosts productivity and creativity, as well as improves mental and physical health.
So, start investing in clear, two-way feedback now in one on one meetings and then enjoy the fruits of that later when you take PTO…like a boss.
PS. Leadr users - If you're taking some time off, be sure to utilize the Post-PTO survey in Leadr for better proactive comms when you return. Hop into the Feedback Module, navigate to Templates - Curated By Leadr, and send out your first Post-PTO Survey to reset with your team on how things went while you were away. Vacation is calling. 🌴