How to Handle Employee Vacations

Your employees are people, not robots, and people need time away from work. While vacations can be scary, especially for small teams with tight deadlines, managers need to get comfortable with paid time off (PTO). 

Managers who are too dependent on their staff risk pushing employees too hard, driving them to burnout or quit. With careful preparation, employee productivity doesn’t have to grind to a halt. You can build policies and processes that allow employees to take breaks without hindering your workflow.

Vacation time also helps boost employee wellbeing and job satisfaction. These both play huge roles in productivity.

Developing a good vacation policy isn’t always easy, especially in the post-pandemic workplace. Employees feel more empowered to demand that companies accommodate them. Get ahead of vacation time and develop a proactive approach that allows employees to unplug without decreasing productivity.

How much vacation time do employees expect?

The days of being a work martyr are over. As younger generations enter the workplace, they’re rejecting workaholic culture and demanding perks that give them a better work-life balance. One of those perks is vacation time. Generous vacation policies can help employers attract talent in a competitive market, which has given rise to unlimited PTO policies

You don’t have to go that far, but it’s worth noting that, on average, employees offered unlimited PTO only take 19 days a year. Most workers don’t expect to be given carte blanche around when they take their PTO, but they do want a generous amount. According to a recent survey, over 85% of US workers want more vacation time. What’s more, workers believe the average employee should get 28 vacation days a year.

Generous vacation policies are great and will help attract new talent. But you’re setting yourself up for failure if you don’t have the procedures in place to accommodate them. Here are a few ideas on what to think about when it comes to accommodating vacation time.

Make sure your employees are booking PTO well in advance - Obviously there will be circumstances when this is impossible, such as a sudden illness in the family. However, you still need to encourage  employees to plan ahead so colleagues aren’t left in the lurch.

Arrange cover - When you know there’ll be a gap in your team, cover it. Schedule meetings before employees leave so everyone is aware of their responsibilities. Make sure to spread the workload out so over-achieving workers aren’t excessively burdened. 

Communicate vacation procedures - Everyone in your department should be clear on what happens when a colleague is away. This avoids the stress of scrambling to catch-up when team members take their PTO. When vacation policies are amended or under review, these changes should be communicated to your team as soon as possible.

Encourage employees to take their PTO - It’s important that managers stress the

importance of taking time to unplug. It sounds odd, but some workers need to be coaxed into taking their vacation time. Be aware that some may struggle to disconnect due to productivity guilt or other factors.


Workcations are a rising trend made possible by better connectivity and employee productivity tools. In fact,  nearly 30% of workers are planning a ‘workcation’ this year.

Checking into the office from the beach might sound like the best of both worlds, but it’s just not the same as a real vacation. Workcations are still work, just in a different setting. Workers need time to completely unplug.  Studies show that vacations are crucial to employee wellbeing and being cut-off from your inbox decreases stress and enhances focus.

If your team is asking for workcation options, find out why. Is it because they feel pressure to always be ‘on’? Or are they simply looking for some flexibility in their schedule? Building a people-centric culture means finding out what employees need for a healthy work experience, and how to accommodate those needs. Even if that means giving them the chance to disconnect on a regular basis.

Know when your employees are headed for burnout, and when it’s time for them to take their vacation with our employee productivity tracker, Prodoscore. The innovative platform monitors use of core business tools to provide managers with visibility into their team’s daily activities in real-time. Using this data, team leaders can identify red flags, such as sudden dips in productivity, and use those insights to improve employee wellness and engagement. 

How will visibility impact your business?