As Restrictions Lift and Summer Approaches, Will Employees Take Their Vacation Time?

Namely, the leading HR platform for mid-sized companies, having recently analyzed aggregated data from its popular time and attendance management functionality, today released its findings regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on "paid time off" (PTO) requests. 

In January and February 2020, PTO requests stayed almost exactly the same as they did in 2019. As stay-at-home orders became mainstream in March 2020, Namely's platform saw a year-over-year decline in PTO requests (36 percent of employees requested off in March 2019 versus only 27 percent in March 2020); yet, the average length of requests was longer. In April 2020, employees requesting PTO plunged to 18 percent on average versus 38 percent during the same month in 2019. By May 2020, as restrictions started to lift, PTO requests were on the rise again, although still significantly lower (24 percent of employees requesting off) than in May 2019 (38 percent of employees requesting off).

According to a 2019 study by WorldatWork, 37 percent of employees do not use their allotted paid time off each year. To encourage utilization of this critical benefit, some organizations have established a "use or lose" policy. With so much uncertainty in today's workplace, a clearly stated vacation policy with an automated approval process helps employees feel empowered to take the time they've earned.

Industry analyst Madeline Laurano, Founder of Aptitude Research, commented, "COVID-19 has disrupted almost every aspect of work-life balance, from work-from-home to homeschooling. While it might feel like taking paid time off doesn't make sense right now, unplugging during the summer months can help employees manage the burnout of these pandemic times. In fact, it can actually result in improved productivity and employee engagement."

Namely's CEO Larry Dunivan added, "With travel restrictions in place, it might seem counterintuitive to take time off; however, taking a break from work can be restorative. Giving managers visibility into schedules in advance and communicating the ground rules to everyone ensures employees can leverage their PTO benefits. In helping employees achieve some of those restorative benefits, Namely added two company holidays and offered summer hours in July and August to encourage employees towards this objective."

Namely tracks PTO request data annually and compares the current year against the previous year. PTO – as in vacation requests – is tracked separately from longer-term leave requests. Data was normalized for fluctuations related to COVID-19.


For more information about Namely's time and attendance software, including online time tracking, mobile/geo-fenced time tracking, scheduling and reporting, click here.

Topics: HR

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