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    The “Great Resignation” trend began during the pandemic, forever affecting the labor market. A growing number of workers are leaving their jobs for opportunities with more favorable working environments and benefits.

    In response, another trend was born. Employers are now redesigning their benefits packages to include extended PTO and focus on their employees’ well-being. July is National Recreation & Parks Month, and with Summer in full swing, it’s a great time to consider how vacation encouragement to get outside and take time off from work can affect employee well-being.

    Rethinking Vacations & Time Off

    According to the U.S. Labor Department . This ongoing trend has opened employers’ eyes to the new realities of what employees prioritize in the workplace.

    Workers don’t have to stay with jobs they don’t love if their physical or mental health and personal relations are suffering. The work-from-home revolution has shown employees that it is possible to find a job with a level of mutual respect and benefits tailored to workers’ needs. Moreover, it shows that employers do, in fact, have the power to change and update what benefits they offer. Remote work has allowed organizations to become more flexible without losing productivity. As these ideas proliferate, many companies are adding extra time off along with mental health days to their benefits packages. Some are even allowing hybrid in-office/WFH schedules for some employees.

    Vacations & Mental Health

    Many corporate leaders agree that stress and burnout harm their organization and their people and are now taking steps to resolve these issues. Because of this, many companies find the value of mental health days outweighs the costs of increased PTO.

    With that in mind, some benefits of mental health days and wellness time off include:

    • Improving overall health. Constant stress can lead to other more complex mental illnesses that can make workers vulnerable to physical diseases like heart disease or cancer. In the long term, it is more cost-effective to provide mental health days to allow employees to decompress.
    • Preventing burnout. Burnout is a sign your workers are quite close to leaving. PTO and wellness days might just be what your team members need to be able to see their tasks with fresh eyes.
    • Increasing productivity. Mentally healthy and relaxed employees make for more energetic and motivated workers.

    Unfortunately, employees tend to feel uncomfortable requesting time off since they think they must justify their reasoning. Moreover, many organizations offer PTO and wellness time off on paper but have an unofficial workplace culture that discourages using that time. It’s essential to ensure that your team feels free to use their time off, and regularly encouraging them to do so will help. There are some effective ways to change your organization’s culture and make taking breaks an important part of your company’s values:

    • Regularly remind your team that PTO and wellness days are theirs to use as needed and whenever they need them.
    • Be open about PTO, don’t treat it with secrecy, and reassure your team you have their back while they are gone.
    • Ensure the overall environment does not discourage workers or make them feel judged for using their time.
    • As a superior, make sure to practice this culture as well by taking wellness days and PTO as you need it and be open about it to your team when you do. Encourage them to do so as well.
    • Make sure your team knows they are indispensable, and their work and job will await them even if they take off for PTO or WTO.

    Time Off Affects Retention and Recruitment

    After exploring the benefits of increased PTO and supporting your employees’ mental health, it is easy to see how this can lower your turnover rate and increase the retention of your current talent. These breaks will make your team feel more valued and less overwhelmed, increasing the level of mutual respect in the workplace.

    In today’s hiring market, jobseekers prioritize mental health and benefit packages that align with their lifestyle and needs. Though this shift may sound like a colossal investment, the long-term benefit will lower your costs, as strong time-off policies and mental health support are linked to reduced absenteeism, healthcare costs, and more productive teams.

    PTO and mental health days or Wellness Time Off are great, cost-effective perks often overlooked by employers. Implementing these policies and building this culture will set you apart from competitors and will increase recruitment opportunities. Allowing for PTO hours to start accruing earlier; granting mental health days for your workers to use as needed; and offering all national holidays as PTO is just good business.

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