Employee Development, Human Resources, Leadership

What to Expect of Employees Before They Take PTO

All employees need to take a day off here and there or maybe go on a vacation for a week or two. It’s typically a basic part of the compensation package, at least for salaried employees. But taking time off is generally not as simple as letting your manager know you won’t be in tomorrow or for the next week.


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Even when employees aren’t in the office, they have a responsibility to ensure their work—and the organization—won’t suffer as a result. Here are some basic rules employees should follow when taking time off.

Let People Know

OK, this sounds obvious, but bear with us. “Just because your boss signed off on your vacation request doesn’t translate to an out-of-sight and out-of-mind situation,” writes Caroline Zaayer Kaufman in an article for Monster. “Either arrange a brief in-person meeting to bring your boss up to speed, or provide him or her with an email that explains which of your co-workers are covering your jobs while you’re away,” she suggests.

Additionally, anyone they regularly work with or could conceivably work with should be informed when employees are taking time off, as well as who to contact in their absence.

That goes for external people, too, like customers or key partners. It’s a good idea to send out an e-mail ahead of time, as well as include pertinent details in an out-of-office reply and voicemail greeting.

Identify Coverage

Even if an employee is going to be gone for just a day, identify someone as a go-to in case anything comes up that needs immediate attention but isn’t necessarily critical enough to call the employee off paid time off (PTO). It should be someone who has enough knowledge to cover effectively if need be.

This is even more important for longer absences. “It’s important that those taking the reins for you understand exactly what they’ll be doing while you’re gone,” writes Zaayer Kaufman. “Schedule a meeting with whoever is covering for you to review what’s in store.”

Work Ahead

When taking extended PTO, employees should get as much work done ahead of time as they can. “You can do this by scheduling time off months in advance so that you manage your time wisely before you leave,” says John DiScala, for Inc. “Plan ahead and keep some room for the unexpected.”

Employees should be allowed to enjoy their time off work and not be worried about checking e-mails or answering phone calls, etc. But they also need to make sure they prepare in advance when possible so as not to unnecessarily burden coworkers or allow their work to suffer or be neglected.

Make sure your employees understand the expectations the organization has of them when they plan to be out of the office.