Is there a good time to take time off?


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average national amount of paid time off (PTO) per employee is 10 days after one year of service. During COVID-19 (yes we are still talking about that), people had nowhere to travel and thus really never got to take a vacation. Now that businesses have opened and mask mandates have dropped, people are finding that even though they have the time off, they are too busy, or worse, not encouraged to use it.

For manufacturers, giving employees time off right now is a difficult task. For one, there is a severe labor shortage that is affecting production and timelines already. Add that to the fact that you never know when your suppliers are going to deliver your shipments and you have a perfect storm of hurry-up-and-wait, which affects scheduling for employees. This also creates an anxiety for not only the business owners, but a burnout for their team waiting to find the right time to take a vacation.

In the U.S., because time off is not mandated as in other countries, there can be a feeling of guilt for the employee to take time off during the busy season. Some of this comes down to bad managers, but it also can be because our culture has created a reward for workaholics. People brag about working 60-hour weeks and never taking time off. How do you compete with an employee like that? It can make others feel like they will be the next to go during layoff season if they are not exhausting themselves at the job. This also create a reputation for your company that others might not want to work there. Word of mouth to find new employees might be useful, but only if good news is being shared.

So, what do you do?

Some manufacturing companies shut down for a month during the slower periods of the year and mandate that employees take time off. Others have given Fridays off every week in the summer months or encouraged people to not schedule calls at the end of the week, so they can have more time to get the projects done that they want to. And then, there are some companies that are literally paying their employees money to take their PTO so they don’t lose it at the end of the year — some of them almost $300 per week.

Regardless of how you handle it, as a leader, it is a good idea to check in with your team about job fatigue and to get a report at least quarterly on how many days your employees are actually taking. If finding skilled labor is the No. 1 issue manufacturers are facing, it is probably a good idea not to lose the talent you have.

Work with the middle management and talk to employees directly about if they have vacation plans or are saving their time off for something special. Connect with them and make sure they know you want them to take time off and that there is no penalty for that. Encourage your staff to avoid burnout by using their hard-earned leave and then welcome them back smiling. Your employees will feel valued if they know they work at a place that encourages a better work/life balance.

Lastly, taking time off has so many benefits that outweigh the employee being gone for a week or two. According to Allina Health, “Studies have shown that taking time away from the job can have physical and mental health benefits. People who take vacations have lower stress, less risk of heart disease, a better outlook on life, and more motivation to achieve goals.”

When your staff gets away from the office for little bit, they come back happier, healthier, and motivated to work hard — so make sure to book your vacation today.

Webinars and Seminars

June 15

How to Navigate Recent Tariff and Trade Law Changes to Protect Your Supply Chain, Lower Costs, and Grow Export Markets

While still young, this year has already seen the launch of important new U.S. trade and tariff initiatives that will have a significant impact on U.S.-based bearing and gear manufacturers and consumers. In this webinar, our panel of trade experts will explain these developments, how they will affect your business, and how you
can be prepared to take advantage. Among the topics we will cover are:

  • How new agreements with the European Union (and possibly Japan and the U.K.) will shape steel and aluminum markets in 2022.
  • The status of U.S. and EU proposals for “carbon border measures” that may raise costs or open new market opportunities.
  • New tariffs on imports from China.
  • Prospects for obtaining tariff exemptions and reductions for key imports.

July 13-14

Involute Spline Design & Rating

This course will address both geometry and rating of involute splines of various types. The types of spline joints and their applications will be discussed. Spline configuration variations, including half depth, full depth, and special function designs, will be addressed. Both fixed and flexible spline configurations will be examined
in terms of usage and design. Lubrication methods, including grease, oil bath, and flowing oil, as well as coatings appropriate for various spline applications, are examined. Shear and compressive stress rating methods are discussed with analyses methodology presented in both equation and graphical methodology via various rating charts.

Missed a webinar?

If you were unable to attend one of our webinars, don’t worry. All of our webinars are archived. AGMA members can access the back catalog of webinars on the 2022 Emerging Technology Webinar page, the 2021 Emerging Tech Webinar page, and the AGMA webinar catalog.

Networking — Join us at this year’s FTM

2022 AGMA Fall Technical Meeting (FTM)
October 17-19, 2022  |  Chicago, Illinois

Technology is fundamentally changing manufacturing. To keep up in today’s marketplace, designers and manufacturers need to follow the emerging trends and communicate the latest ideas with their fellow experts in the field. AGMA’s annual Fall Technical Meeting (FTM) is the perfect forum for this.

Each year, 30 authors are selected by AGMA to write peer-reviewed technical papers on topics relevant to the gear industry. Topics include: design, analysis, manufacturing, quality, materials, metallurgy, heat treatment, operation, maintenance, efficiency, and gear failure. Authors present the results of their papers in a single-track conference, which means you don’t have to pick and choose which presentations to attend. With a full registration you receive copies of all papers, are able to see all the presentations, ask questions to all the presenters, and network with your peers over three days.

Download the Q2-2022 Gear Market Report

The 2022 Gear Market Report (GMR) webinar was a success, but not everyone was able to attend. All AGMA members have access to both the Q2-2022 GMR and the accompanying webinar for free. The GMR can be downloaded from the AGMA publications store. Those who would like to view the webinar can contact to receive a link to the webinar.

Calendar of events

June 21-23 — Gear Failure Analysis — St. Louis, Missouri

June 30 — Materials and Metallurgy — WebEx

July 12 — Bevel Gearing Committee — WebEx

July 13-14 — Flexible Couplings Committee — Chicago, Illinois

July 19-21 — Gearbox Systems Design — Clearwater, Florida

July 26-29 — Heat Treatment for Operators -— Chicago, Illinois

August 10-11 — Basic Gear Inspection for Operators — Chicago, Illinois

August 11 — Gear Accuracy Committee — WebEx

August 23 — Bevel Gearing Committee — WebEx

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Rebecca Brinkley is AGMA communications manager. Reach her at