“Joe, I really hope you enjoy your vacation with your family,” the boss said as Joe walked out the door. Two days later, as Joe was fishing with his children, he received his fifteenth text message from his boss screaming for an answer.
Joe’s kids wondered: “This is a vacation?”
Bottom line: Employees don’t unplug unless the leaders around them unplug.
The pressures of business can distort definitions. PTO is supposed to mean Paid Time Off. As in, the employee is not working. Some teams, though, create an environment where being a team player means you’re available 24/7. They interpret PTO to mean Pretend Time Off. In these cases when an employee says, “I’m on vacation,” others hear “I’m working outside the office.”
Sustained excellence in business is a function of discipline in both mental and physical health. As a team it’s worth getting aligned on what’s necessary for excellence as it relates to personal health.
– The price of PTO should be effective collaboration. Any person’s PTO is a team effort. Rather than making it the employee’s sole responsibility to avoid emails or phone calls while he’s with family, successful teams fight for their peer’s health by limiting communications.
– There are those who make little distinction between their work and play.1 Occasionally, what you’re after is not time away from your passion (others may call it work), but an alternative structure, pace, or environment. (Beach sand can be inspiring.) If you’re going to work while you’re away, set communications expectations with your team. For example, 30 minutes per day of connection while on PTO, and only respond to critical matters.
– And for those who believe they can’t stop working, lest they fall short of their potential: “Rest” is part of our job. Downtime is critical to sustained excellence. This means that time away from the office is actually important work. In the big picture, investing in ourselves by turning off our smartphone is a strategy to becoming an even higher performer.
Long Lever Questions:
– How is PTO defined and valued by our team? And what do we want it to mean?
– What opportunities do we have to ensure that the investment of any PTO is fully maximized?
– What’s the specific payoff to our team as we effectively execute one person’s PTO?