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How To Take PTO During the Holidays and Not Feel Guilty About It

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The holiday season is swiftly approaching and with it comes time to start submitting PTO requests. Generally, most employees look forward to using their PTO during the holidays. Some will even stockpile the hours throughout the year so they can travel or head out on vacations.

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However, sometimes it’s possible to feel guilty about using your PTO. This is especially true of teams that are short-staffed or people who work at companies that are quite busy during the holidays. Here’s how to curb any feelings of guilt you may be experiencing when deciding to take your PTO, plus some of the best approaches for taking PTO to ensure you don’t end up in a “use it or lose it” situation.

Tips for Feeling Less Guilty When Using PTO

Here are some tips to help you put the guilt aside when taking time off.

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Be Productive Prior to Heading Out

One of the simplest ways to curb guilt before taking your PTO is to use the time prior to heading out to be productive. 

Don’t leave everything to your team to work on in your absence. Make sure all your deadlines are met and you have everything in order. If there’s anything that can’t be finalized before you take off, have a plan in place for how that should be handled.

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Ask Yourself: Why Do You Feel Guilty?

Taking PTO can often be difficult to do in terms of coordinating the time away from work and fine-tuning the details. However, this should not make you feel so overwhelmed with guilt that you feel you cannot leave work.

Those struggling to take their PTO should ask themselves what is creating the guilty feeling, said stress coach Madi Snow. What are the facts behind the root of this guilt?

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“Keep in mind to avoid burnout we have to trust ourselves to make the decisions which keep a balance of power in our work-life,” Snow said. “Work can’t have all the power without us eventually wanting to throw in the towel.”

PTO Supports Your Humanity

Another way we can remind ourselves our PTO is worth taking and enjoying is to remember our humanity. PTO, Snow said, allows you to prioritize your health, well-being and the fact you are human before you are an employee.

“It’s important to remember we are great employees whether we’re actively at work or not,” Snow said. “Our value doesn’t diminish when we take time to be with the people we love.”

Giving all the power to work ultimately works against an employee, and human. Doing this may result in creating an environment where we resent showing up. Snow said this can erode the relationship with how we show up at work, the very thing we’re trying to support by thinking we can’t take time off.

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“Supporting that human piece will only make the employee piece stronger,” Snow said.

How To Approach Taking PTO

By now, you may feel a little more confident about taking and using your PTO. You may also be looking at the calendar and realizing it won’t be much longer before the holiday season starts up. It’s time to take your hard-earned time off!

No matter what season it is, the best way to approach taking PTO is to plan ahead, said Linda Shaffer, chief people operations officer at Checkr. This means putting in for time off as early as possible and being mindful of any company policies.

“Some companies have a first-come, first-serve policy when it comes to PTO, so the sooner you request time off, the better. Other companies have a set number of days employees are allowed to take off during the holidays, so it’s important to be aware of these guidelines,” Shaffer said.

What if your PTO request is too late and is denied by HR? Shaffer recommends setting alternate vacation or travel plans. This way, you won’t feel disappointed and will have something to look forward to — which you can apply your PTO toward.

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