PTO is Not Always a Week at the Beach

It’s late February and many employees have just had their last corporate paid holiday, President’s Day, until Memorial Day. That’s almost 4 months until we get to enjoy another 3 day weekend. Pack in some cold and cloudy days for a many parts of the world and you can see the stress levels rise. For HR professionals, this time of the year can really tempt the blood pressure. Many are rolling off a tough open enrollment period and most are in the thick of annual performance management and compensation conversations. All are dealing with the every day employee relations issues and unplanned fire drills in the HR trenches. During these stressful times, it’s important to remember to take some time to reset and relax and dig deep into those PTO banks.

The past several months have been a little more stressful than usual, for me. There have been a few changes at my job and a few things, personally, that have been more than a distraction. More times than not, I’ve been bringing the work issues home with me, adding to that stress. Recently, I was having the conversation with a colleague about our “busy season” and the need to get away. She let me know that she was taking a long weekend in Florida to get away. This wasn’t a week-long vacation, but a nice four day weekend to unplug, unwind, and reset. Hearing this got me thinking about how we tend to view PTO. We think of PTO or vacation time as a week or two spent sipping fruity drinks on beautiful beaches.

So I took my colleague’s advice and took last Wednesday off. My wife was traveling for work and we were going through the various activities for our children and trying to balance the work and the life. Instead of trying to manage all of this and manage my job (as she does), I decided to take the day off. And, it was wonderful. I had a little bit of a plan, but my main goal was to stay away from my work email and to try something new.

On my day off, I attended my first yoga class. I have a couple of friends who are instructors and they gave me some tips about what was the right class for me. Plus, I got 2 weeks free (well, I bought a $9 yoga mat for an extra week. Thanks, CorePower!) While there were a few nerves before the class, the experience was fantastic. There was no judging, the instructor was super helpful, and I left the class feeling refreshed. For one hour, in the 105 degree heat, I was able to focus only on me. Now, I’m not going to go all “namaste’” on you here, but this will be something I’m going to try to incorporate into my goals and routine.

I encourage you to view your PTO not only in terms of a long getaway, but also as a short break from your routine. Take a long weekend somewhere to enjoy a sunset. Take a Wednesday off and be a tourist in your own city. Delete the email client from your phone on this day. Volunteer in your community or at your child’s school. Go have coffee at your local coffee shop. Do something different or try something new.

And, who knows, by taking more time off, you may get that big raise you’ve been looking for!

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Posted in HR

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