Using PTO for Holidays: The Benefits and Drawbacks

Paid time off, commonly referred to as PTO, is one of the most important employee benefits included in a thriving workplace environment. While using PTO for holidays and vacation days offers employees a chance to relax, recharge, and spend quality time with their loved ones, its advantages arrive with a specific set of challenges you and your business must learn to navigate skillfully. By exploring both the benefits and drawbacks of this resource, you and your employees will discover precisely how to make informed choices before the coming holiday season. 

How Scheduling Holiday PTO Works  

As the holidays rapidly approach, your employees will ask questions about responsibly balancing workplace obligations alongside necessary family time. Learning how to explain PTO to your employees is the first step in creating open communication channels around PTO, avoiding convoluted, last-minute discourse about time off. 

Once your employees understand the intricate policies surrounding this resource, such as allocation, accrual, expiration, and payouts, they can start scheduling their time out of the office through formal requests, workflow adjustments, and task delegation. But before your employees officially solidify their plans, they’ll want to review some of the drawbacks and benefits of using their allotted PTO.  

The Pros and Cons of Using PTO for Holidays

When thinking critically about using PTO, there are exciting advantages as well as inevitable disadvantages that come with the territory. Below are a few of the more notable consequences of taking time off during the holidays. 

The Benefits of Using PTO for Holidays

  • Prioritizing Quality Time: The most immediately obvious benefit of using paid time off during the holidays is spending valuable time with family and friends. Because many industries and businesses synchronously offer the same paid holidays to their employees—such as Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving Day—this maximizes the rare opportunity to align PTO schedules so that employees can meet up with loved ones that may otherwise be hard to connect with during the year. Holidays are often the only time when everyone can gather and celebrate together, and using PTO ensures that everyone can fully participate in these special moments, make memories, and communally partake in cultural or religious traditions. 
  • Flexibility and Freedom: PTO during the holidays also lends hardworking employees the flexibility to choose when to take time off as it best befits their needs. This agency empowers people to align their vacation time with their preferred schedule. Regardless of popular trends, some holidays may feel more important than others depending on an individual’s lifestyle. This freedom ensures that all employees spend time out of the office during poignant occasions that reflect their race, religion, ethnicity, and familial traditions, among other factors.
  • Work-Life Balance: Cultivating a healthy work-life balance is another essential benefit of taking time off during the holidays. PTO fosters a deep sense of emotional well-being and helps promote positive mental health habits through scheduled rest and rejuvenation, unburdened by financial concerns. This, in turn, sows the seeds of inspiration and excitement that translate back into holistic workplace wellness. 
  • Avoiding Burnout: Taking paid leave during the holidays will help prevent burnout by pausing the constant work-related stress that leads to decreased productivity, health issues, and job dissatisfaction. Utilizing PTO during the holidays ensures employees take the necessary breaks to prevent burnout and maintain healthy working relationships with their employers. 
  • Improved Productivity: Upon returning to the office, employees will likely exhibit higher productivity levels and motivation regarding their responsibilities and duties. Data-driven studies show that employees who take full advantage of their paid time off experience higher rates of success, happiness, and even increase the likelihood of receiving a promotion. 

The Drawbacks of Using PTO for Holidays

  • Limited Allotment of PTO: Unless your workplace offers unlimited paid time off, the main drawback of using PTO for holidays is that you’ll have less available time to allocate towards other matters, such as sick leave, personal leave, parental leave, and vacation time. When considering the average vacation time offered by small businesses, this resource proves rather precious and should be conserved accordingly, accounting for the potential of unexpected emergencies and illnesses. 
  • Managing Difficult Workloads: Popular holidays may disrupt critical project deadlines, timelines, and workflows, especially because other staff members will likely simultaneously use their PTO. These situations may leave the office understaffed and saturated in stress. With team members out of office, communication chains may be disrupted or compromised, leading to information silos and backlogs of unfinished work once the holidays are over. 
  • Missed Opportunities: Holidays may also coincide with busy work periods, important industry events, deal closings, and conferences. Taking PTO during the holidays risks forgoing potential opportunities for career development, promotion, and/or professional growth.
  • Financial Complications: While some businesses and organizations may offer employees regular wages during time off, others offer only partial compensation for holiday absences. For some individuals, especially those living paycheck to paycheck, this financial aspect can be a significant concern and deter them from using their PTO for holidays. 
  • Availability and Blackout Dates: Depending on company policies and the number of employees in a given workplace, taking time off during desirable and popular holiday periods may be challenging due to limited availability, given that other employees may have already scheduled their PTO. Predetermined blackout dates further complicate the ability to take stress-free time away from the office because they erect barriers around periods of high demand, such as the end of the quarter or seasonally-specific upticks in business or volume. 

Strategies for Maximizing Holiday PTO 

Fortunately, for both business owners and their employees, there are several effective strategies for maximizing holiday PTO while avoiding the complications mentioned above. Planning is crucial to managing your workload before and after taking time off, allowing for smooth communication, preparation, and, most importantly—delegation. Staying connected during your time away from the office will also help others reach you if unexpected problems occur during your absence. 

Always consider the bigger picture when determining whether holiday PTO is feasible. Budgeting for pricey holiday travel ahead of time and accounting for partial pay will help manage expenses before they become problematic. Moreover, spreading PTO days throughout the year rather than using them all for holidays will help employees enjoy short breaks and longer vacations without depleting their PTO bank altogether.

Administer Employee Benefits With Canal HR 

Understanding how using PTO for holidays, vacation days, sick leave, and personal days impacts your employees is essential in integrating this valuable resource into your organization. To minimize the potential drawbacks and challenges that may arise while having staff members out of the office, Canal HR is here to make sure that your employee benefits administration runs as smoothly as possible. 

Get in touch today to discover how our work with hundreds of companies across the southeastern United States has transformed and simplified human resources management, helping your employees thrive in and out of the office.