How These Companies Encourage Employees to Take Time Off
While there is some merit to the phrase "work hard to play hard," the positive impact of time away from work only occurs if employees actually use their PTO.
Currently, over 50% of Americans leave unused vacation days on the table, which account for billions of dollars in forfeited benefits.
PTO gives employees a chance to step away from daily work demands and focus on resting and recharging. It also helps combat burnout and boost employee productivity.
Having a hard time taking advantage of your PTO?
Read on to see how our partner companies are encouraging their employees to take vacation.
"Doing your best work means being your best self. To help, Uber offers a wide range of benefits and perks, including unlimited paid vacation for many roles. Employees are encouraged to use paid time off as they see fit, whether it's to vote or attend a parent-school activity, and only need approval by their direct manager."
Learn more about Uber here.
Here's a message from Okta's CEO, Todd McKinnon:
"I talked with the company about this in a recent weekly All Hands. I discussed the changes we're all navigating & emphasized that I know how hard everyone's working. I needed to do a better job acknowledging that, showing gratitude, and (the key) reminding people to TAKE TIME OFF. This includes me! I'm taking 3 weeks off this summer to spend time with my family. I asked every employee to email me directly with their summer vacation plans. I've received about 300 emails so far, which tells me a lot of employees are still planning their PTO.
Our vision to enable everyone to safely use any technology is ambitious, long-term, and will take a lot of work to bring to life. We have a tremendous, $80B opportunity but I don't want people to be so fried that they can't finish the race. I always encourage Okta employees to be builders & owners and take responsibility for what they need, but I also recognize that it falls flat if the example set by managers and by me doesn't provide space for balance. We have to get this right to meet our potential.
We've hired a lot of incredibly smart people who work hard and care deeply about Okta. What I'm trying to reinforce to employees is that caring about Okta also means caring for yourself, and taking time off. Amazing work can't happen without rest and recovery."
Learn more about Okta here.
"The well-being of PwC's people is a top priority! The firm recently launched new "Shared Success" benefits as a way to thank their people for a year of hard work. Employees can now receive $250 each time they take a full week's vacation, up to four times throughout the year. The program has the potential to continue into the future if there is wide adoption. The firm also launched 'Fridays Your Way,' which encourages their people to protect their time on Friday afternoons this summer to focus work without interruption, vacation time, development/upskilling or volunteer work."
Learn more about PwC here.
"At Automattic, time off is unlimited. To be sure vacation days get used, we recommend that folks take at least a minimum of 25 days off every year … and encourage them to take more. In addition, we encourage folks to take a three-month Sabbatical every five years."
Learn more about Automattic here.
"Relativity has an unlimited time off policy as well as two, week-long office closings throughout the year to ensure employees have time to recharge. To make the most of time off and truly unplug , set yourself and your team up for success before you leave. Ensure you have any ongoing items in an a-sync collaborative space so that work can continue while you are away. Set your out of office on emails, slack and any other messaging platform and establish a point-person for critical activities. Then go and have fun, relax and recharge!"
Beth Clutterbuck, CHRO
Learn more about Relativity here.
"Here are three big pieces of advice when going on vacation: First, take your work chat program and email off your phone—fully delete them or you'll just want to sign back in. Next, don't put in your OOO that you'll respond to all emails the day you get back; just say that you'll begin responding. Finally, explicitly lay out the only (few and far between) reasons anyone should interrupt your vacation, but be clear that you may not be reachable, and that it should be an absolute last resort. It's OK! Things won't crumble in your absence."
Learn more about Guru here.
"To get the most out of your PTO, we suggest letting co-workers and managers know the dates you'll be out of office a week or two ahead of time. This ensures they get to you with any needs prior to your being off. Always set up your Out of Office autoreplies and adjust your IM settings to "away" or "vacationing". Lastly, STOP CHECKING YOUR EMAIL AND IMs ON YOUR PHONE! We've cut off access to email in the past for people on maternity/paternity leave, to ensure they stay focused on their leave and family."
Learn more about uShip here.
"We have an unlimited vacation policy and an internal calendar that showcases public holidays in all 45+ countries where Hopineers live and work. Johnny, our CEO, speaks frequently about how balance and making the time to rest and recharge is the best way to make sure that we're always bringing our best selves to work. These things combined mean that we are building a culture of respect around PTO that empowers people to unplug and use their time however is most impactful for them. We also have a #Hopinstagram slack channel where people post pics of their holiday activities!"
Learn more about Hopin here.
"SoftwareONE promotes the health benefits of taking time off – reduced stress, heart health, better sleep, and increased productivity. Be the best version of yourself!
Here are a few tips and tricks:
- While still in the office, practice moving your work to your backup plan. You will gain confidence in your ability to disconnect if you know that your backup plan works.
- A few weeks before your time off, add a vacation notification to your email signature. "PLEASE NOTE UPCOMING VACATION DAYS: JULY 2 to JULY 7."
- Make time off planning and preparation a part of the ongoing conversation in your 1:1s with your leader and team meetings.
- While you are on vacation, turn off your work email off from your devices. Remember that you have a backup plan and they know how to reach you in an emergency. Seriously unplug and enjoy!
- We post picture of our employee's personal interests including hobbies and vacations on our social media accounts. This encourages employees to share and pursue interests outside of work."
Learn more about SoftwareOne here.
"Our recommendation is to truly unplug when you are on vacation. Even our CEO takes vacations, so we encourage all of our employees to use their PTO as needed. LogMeIn offers Unlimited PTO (we call it MeTime) to give our employees the flexibility to take time off without worrying about how many hours you've accrued. We respect each other's time off, so if we see someone has an out-of-office message or a "PTO" emoji on Slack, we think twice about pinging them and don't expect them to respond until they are back in the office."
Learn more about LogMeIn here.
"Plan ahead but not to the minute! Know where you're going and where you're staying but leave some time to explore and do things on a whim.
With BlackRock's Flexible Time Off, employees can take as many paid days off per year as they need to relax and recharge. Plus, through the Perks at Work program, employees can find travel inspiration as well as take advantage of discounts on car rentals and hotel rooms – so they can more fully enjoy their time off."
Learn more about BlackRock here.
"At Raytheon Intelligence & Space, we offer a competitive paid-time off program and encourage our employees to take time off to rest and recharge – which our employees embrace."
"A great tip for making the most of your time off is to communicate to your teams early that you will be completely unreachable and actually be unavailable – turn off the phone and email! Be fully present with your family to unwind and relax in the time you have together."
- Amber Kreceman, principal engineer, Raytheon Intelligence & Space
Learn more about Raytheon Technologies here.
"Time off is crucial to a healthy work-life balance. At Lockheed Martin, our Paid Time Off program includes hours that are awarded at the beginning of each year, in addition to hours you can earn, to spend how you like. Enjoy using your hours for vacation, doing community service, taking care of personal business—pretty much anything you want. Remember, taking time to rest and rejuvenate is essential to better wellbeing. We also offer a variety work schedules, from night shifts to Fridays off to remote capabilities. Your role's business needs, and your leader can help you determine the possibilities."
Learn more about Lockheed Martin here.
"At MongoDB, we support our employees by offering a flexible PTO policy to encourage employees to take as much time as they need to recharge. We offer benefits like Headspace and our discount and perks program to help our employees relax and have peace of mind as they vacation.
We suggest employees plan for PTO as early as possible and identify colleagues as point-person for backup so they can feel comfortable not checking in during their time off. We also recommend planning something fun for the end of your first week to help avoid the post-vacation blues!"
Learn more about MongoDB here.
"Here at Clarus, providing good work life balance and adequate PTO are key pillars of our culture. Taking time to refresh and renew is important. We provide an adequate amount of PTO and we give all new hires all of their PTO upfront.
See our PTO benefits below:
- 15 days of vacation, roll over up to 5 days
- 5 days of sick time
- 2 floating holidays (can be used at any point for any reason)
- Close every Friday at 2pm (Don't need to make up the time)
- Generous paid holiday schedule. Includes that we're closed between Christmas and New Year's."
Learn more about Clarus Commerce here.
"At Equinix, our efforts in service to the company and customers have wide-ranging impact. We are encouraged to find balance by taking time to unplug and enjoy doing the things we love outside of work. We have an internal social channel to post, share, and celebrate the vacations and time away we treat ourselves to. This year, Equinix implemented a two day company wide shutdown knowing it's a little bit easier to recharge when your colleagues are also shutting down. We have a collective responsibility to create a culture where actually taking PTO is welcomed and embraced."
Learn more about Equinix here.
"To help our employees make the most of public holidays we provide adjacent additional paid half-days off, company-wide. Many will take this opportunity to dip into their personal PTO allowance to extend what was an extra long-weekend into a full week (or more!) vacation. The longer break definitely encourages our employees to fully unplug from work.
We believe in encouraging employees to utilize their PTO and share best practices on how they find their balance. Different departments have developed creative ways to encourage this too. For example, employees on the US Regional HR team who used 5 consecutive days of PTO and then shared a picture of their time off were entered into a drawing to win a gift card. Here's one of the entry photos!"
Learn more about Munich RE here.
"At SoundCloud, we value taking time away from work and believe it's essential to mental health and overall wellbeing. We stress the importance of taking opportunities to rest, reset and encourage time off by having our leaders lead by example. With this strategy, we have created a company culture that encourages and normalizes the use of PTO. We have found success in categorizing our PTO into specific areas such as vacation, learning and development, or volunteering. This ensures our employees use their vacation time for themselves, free from any work distractions."
Learn more about SoundCloud here.
"At Netskope, we offer unlimited PTO to our employees and encourage them to utilize this time for themselves as needed. We have even launched a Global Wellness Day initiative in which our company observes our newfound holiday a few times a year, so all our employees can enjoy a day off to focus on mental health, spend time with family and friends, or just relax and refresh!"
Learn more about Netskope here.
"Veracode offers employees a generous 'take what you need' vacation policy. In each of the last two years, our CEO has provided employees with Summer Recharge Days, two paid days off in recognition of the passion and drive our employees demonstrate every day. We encourage employees to fully take their time off with family and friends doing whatever brings them joy so that they come back to work refreshed and energized."
Learn more about Veracode here.
"Vacation time isn't just getting away from work, it is about refueling and reenergizing. As easy as devices make it to check emails, it's essential to unplug. Use the time to reflect on past experiences, the challenges you've overcome and recent successes – and celebrate them! Focus on your own well-being, spend time with your loved ones and don't let thoughts of work distract you from being present in the moment."
- Gretchen Kelly, Vice President Enterprise Communication & ERP/HR Systems at Spectrum
Learn more about Spectrum here.
"Work life balance is an integral part of our Culture Code which defines how we work. Autodesk offers discretionary time off (DTO) for U.S. salaried employees, and three weeks of vacation for hourly employees. Additionally, employees get the "Week of Rest" from Christmas Eve through New Year's Day as paid holidays. And what better way to truly take time off and disconnect from work than to be eligible for a six-week paid sabbatical every four years of continuous service. We realize there's a strong correlation between stress, mental-health, and burn out. Therefore, we encourage all our employees to take time off to rest and re-charge."
Learn more about Autodesk here.
Here's their advice for making the most of your time off — and some insight into the ways they help their employees enjoy their R&R:
"How to make the most out of your time off:
- Get familiar with your company's PTO policy
- Plan your time off for the year and request it in advance
- Don't use all of your PTO at once, spread it out throughout the year to avoid burnout.
- Delegate responsibilities, overcommunicate with the team before going on PTO to avoid coming back to a lot of work.
What we offer:
- 15 days of PTO
- 10 paid holidays
- Additional leaves and flexibility based on circumstances
- Expectation of 100% work disconnect during PTO
- Easy and transparent PTO approval process
- Visibility into others' upcoming time off"
Learn more about Unstoppable Domains here.
"Time off is an essential part of self-care. Taking time away from work helps people recharge, catch up with family and friends, prevent burnout and increase productivity.
Having a plan and coverage helps you have as much peace of mind as possible while away. Prepare as much as you can ahead of time and lean on your team for help.
Despite best efforts, you might not finish everything you want before your time off, which is ok. Create your out-of-office coverage plan. Your plan should list critical tasks, determine/assign who on your team can cover and support them, and adding an out-of-office for your email and slack. Partner with everyone listed in your plan to ensure they understand the coverage plan, work, and how they are helping.
Lastly, make sure your peers, team, and business partners have access to and know about your coverage plan. Your plan should provide the current state of the projects/work and the point(s) of contact while you are out of the office. If you're diligent about making preparations before your time off, you can rest assured that essential/critical work is being completed. Enjoy your time away!"
- Andrew Cho, HR Manager
Learn more about OfferUp here.
"At Moody's, we know that it is essential for our employees to be able to take time off and recharge, especially after a particularly difficult time for everyone during the pandemic - managing to both deliver in our jobs and take care of ourselves and family. Our people managers are encouraged to specifically support our employees to ensure they feel comfortable taking time off and we encourage our leaders to role model the same. At Moody's, we foster a supportive and collaborative work environment, and this continues when our colleagues have planned time off to relax, spend with family or friends, or go on vacation and travel where safety permits!"
Learn more about Moody's here.
"At JW Player, we want you to be at your best and avoid burnout. So, we offer an open PTO policy to our full-time US Employees! While out on PTO, we encourage you to unplug from work so you can relax and be back online feeling refreshed. The best way for you to do that would be to:
1. Let your manager know of your time off in advance.
2. Prep your teammates for handoffs while you're out.
3. Block your calendar so people know not to contact you.
4. Set up your auto-reply on your email so people know who they can reach out to in your absence."
Learn more about JW Player here.
"CSL knows the pandemic has added stress to employees' lives, so the global biotech is encouraging wellbeing. This year CSL provided Wellness Days as additional time to recharge. Companywide benefits like Summer Fridays and Winter Holiday Shutdown allow employees to take time off without fear of returning to a mountain of emails. Some sites also offer a Summer Shutdown week. But the most important thing they do is foster a culture that prioritizes taking PTO. All people leaders are asked to role model by taking – and talking about – their PTO, and address factors that prevent team members from taking time off."
Learn more about CSL here.
"Karat offers flexible time off benefits and 18 weekday holidays, including two longer break periods (Summer Break and Winter Break) so everyone can truly reap the mental and physical benefit of time off. The extensive holiday calendar also means we're off at the same time and encourages everyone to actually unplug.
Tip: Lead by example. Taking time off is difficult when you know others on your team are still working. Giving the team coordinated breaks helps people reduce the anxiety that comes from others picking up the workload."
Learn more about Karat here.
"Last year we learned how effective days are to improve morale and combat burnout, so we're proud that we had introduced "Recharge" days--an approach that aligns with our culture and philosophy of putting people first. We've recently introduced additional recharge days to be a company-wide holiday at least once a month for the rest of the year and next year. We've leaned into the magic of when most of the company has the same day off and making sure we take care of our people."
Learn more about Lattice here.
"One of the biggest keys to making the most of your time off is fully disconnecting from work. This requires having good systems in place and a high level of trust within your team. Strong systems allow teammates to easily step in and support your work while you're away, which in turn helps build trust among colleagues. If you feel supported by your team while you're out of the office, you're more likely to fully unplug and then happily return the favor when a teammate is away, allowing them to do the same."
Learn more about Smartsheet here.
"Maintaining a healthy work-life balance has been especially challenging with the impact of the global pandemic. In a recent video to employees, Invesco's President and CEO Marty Flanagan encouraged employees to take their vacation time, emphasizing the importance of rest and self-care.
Taking a vacation, even a "staycation," is proven to help increase work productivity up to 31% while also helping stimulate a more positive frame of mind. That's especially critical given the added stress of COVID-19. Not unplugging from the office to take time off time creates burnout, fatigue, and can impact your health and personal life."
Learn more about Invesco here.
"GameChanger offers teammates unlimited vacation time because we know how important it is to refresh and recharge. To encourage our teammates to take vacation, we make it easy for them to plan with a simple process to request the time off and by providing the team support needed while they're out. Additionally, though we have many paid holidays throughout the year, we empower teammates to use vacation time to recognize or celebrate any holidays outside of our list. GameChanger also provides the opportunity to work remotely, which makes planning your next adventure even easier."
Learn more about GameChanger here.
"ServiceNow is taking a fun and innovative approach to ensuring employees focus on their health and well-being every week with "Recharge Half-day Fridays". The world pandemic has put a spotlight on employee health and well-being and the need for a better work/life balance. ServiceNow leadership came together to introduce this program as a collective way for every employee worldwide to carve out much-needed time to recharge and refocus themselves and their families.
Running from the first week in June through the first week of September 2021, the program has been wildly popular and offers a great way for employees around the world to share the creative ways they are using their time, including some examples below.
- Taking up sketching and improving tennis game
- Spending every Friday afternoon attending music lessons with daughter
- Sharing sushi every Friday with a friend
- Working on renovations to backyard garden
- Having a swim with new ServiceNow swags!"