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What are PTO woes and how you can avoid them

Smiling lady worker sitting in office while typing by keyboard
Posted at 6:47 AM, Dec 16, 2022

The holiday season is when many people take time off work, and while you want to enjoy your paid time off, the dread of returning to work can make your time off more stressful.

The job website Monster is calling this "PTO woes.”

“It's basically the stress and anxiety of returning to work after you've taken PTO,” said Vicki Salemi, a career expert with Monster.

Monster found that 87% of workers have experienced PTO woes, and 72% not requesting time off due to the fear of this.

And when they are on PTO, 76% spend part of their time thinking about quitting when they return.

“The majority of people in our service, I guess what they're actually checking emails or they're checking work while they are on ‘PTO,’” Salemi said. “The others have said they are daydreaming about a new job while they're on PTO. For their current job, they may not have anyone to delegate to, so they wouldn't be checking emails periodically throughout the day while they're supposed to be taking time off.”

Salemi says employees can do a few things to lessen their anxiety and stress before returning to work.

"Try to get everything in order, which may feel like you're working extra hours,” she said. “Have a delegation plan. Talk to your boss and set boundaries, and say, ‘OK, here's my number. Feel free to text me if there's an emergency. But I’m not planning on checking emails. Set an out-of-office response and stick to it."

Salemi also says over a quarter of people surveyed are worried about layoffs and avoid taking PTO to show their value.

She says if you feel stressed, this could be an opportunity to look for a better job that values your time off.