How Much Time Off is Enough?

How does your company handle it’s paid time off policy? Is it traditional? A banked system? Or something more radical and experimental? Employee benefits, including Paid Time Off (PTO), have become a much bigger consideration in the retention of good team members. With technological advances promoting the opportunity for remote workers, the inclusion of the Millennials and their ideas, many companies are breaking the traditional barriers of PTO policy.

In the old days, it was a black and white issue. New employees got two weeks of Paid Vacation and three sick days. I remember once early in my career when a co-worker called into our boss and said she was “sad” and would not be in that day. After that call was received, I remember my boss talking to his boss for what seemed like two hours to decide on whether this fit into the “sick day” policy. Not a banner moment in that company’s history. This dilemma was eventually erased with the first change in standard PTO policy when the “Sick Days” policy turned into a “Personal Days” policy in order to give the employee more flexibility.

Most companies today are looking at their PTO policy as a way to attract and keep good employees. The next wave of major changes to this policy started in the early 2000’s as companies offered “banked” time off that allowed employees to gain additional time with each year of seniority. A recent survey stated, “bank styled PTO policies have reduced turnover by 9% when compared to traditional systems.” As we look at total cost of operations, personnel expenses are growing dramatically. With the increased cost of healthcare, regulation administration and other burdens, it is more important than ever to get our policies right.

Today, a small number of organizations (and not surprisingly spearheaded by tech firms who deal with Millennials almost exclusively) are implementing unlimited PTO policies. These plans were put in place to hire the best of the best. Here’s my question….If you hire the best of the best, aren’t you hiring those people who will most likely work harder than the next guy and not take advantage of these “policies”? EXACTLY! That is the bet these tech companies are making. The staff now has the freedom to take the time off, but their own desire to succeed and move up the corporate ladder is their new master. Sure take the time off, but don’t get too envious of that corner office.

All of this maneuvering makes my head spin and my teeth hurt. I have never been a big fan of social engineering at the macro or micro level. My contention is that we should find people who fit in our culture, have the skill set to do the job we hired them to do and then treat them right. Plans and packages that intend to make people act a certain way are usually manipulative and counterproductive in the long run.  Hire right, treat them like individuals with respect and accountability and they will thrive and so will you!

If you’re looking for more consulting on hiring and retaining construction employees, contact Strategies Group today. We can help consult you on tactics that will help your business grow.

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