June 29, 2018

No PTO? No, Thank You.

Written by
Dottie Chong
Tags: HR

Survey finds 60 percent of employees will reject a job offer without paid time off

With the vacation season upon us, it’s stirring the need to peregrinate, even among the most faithful homebodies. With the changing nature of the workplace and constant connectivity, it may be worth the time to rethink your business’ paid time off (PTO) policy, whether it’s to implement one or revise the existing approach.

When we talk about paid time off, we refer to an HR policy where employers will pay for a specific amount of the employee’s sick days, vacation days, and personal days. A recent survey by TSheets shows that PTO is indeed an important perk that employees look for when searching for their next job — so important it’s only second to health insurance.

In fact, 60 percent of employees say they will not accept a job without paid time off, and with five generations spread across the workplace, it’s definitely a challenge for businesses and organizations to decide on a one-size-fits-all solution, regardless of size and industry.

Less money, more PTO

Some employees are even willing to sacrifice their wages in return for more paid time off. Twenty-eight percent of respondents from the PTO survey echo this, suggesting PTO is considered a very precious perk, which is probably why companies like Netflix, Virgin, and Hubspot implemented unlimited PTO policies. And when Mammoth HR decided to try the same policy for a year, they found employees actually took the same amount of time off, but company morale went through the roof.

No breaks mean more stress and sick time

Stress levels were found to be higher among employees who do not get PTO. More than half in this group say they’re either “often” or “always” stressed, with 58 percent of them describing the level as unhealthy. And when employees do not get paid sick time, many have little choice but to show up to work sick. This was definitely the case with the PTO survey, where only 11 percent of respondents say that they’ve never come to work under the weather.

Working sick, while appearing heroic and valiant to some, is actually the antithesis of productivity. In fact, it gives way to decreased work and lower quality output. And lost productivity and costs due to common pain conditions in the US workplace comes to more than $150 billion a year.

Vacation shaming is bad for business

For employees who do get paid time off, 65 percent did not get to use all their allocation. One must wonder: If it truly is an important perk, why isn’t it being utilized? Turns out 1 in 3 employees feels pressured not to take time off. They know their manager wouldn’t approve it or they just don’t feel comfortable requesting for time off — both of which point to a toxic work culture.

Another question in the PTO survey asked employees if they’ve ever misled their manager about taking time off and 51 percent bravely confessed to fibbing. The answers vary widely, from lack of sleep to caring for a sick relative or recovering from a hangover. Ultimately, there will be times when an employee will need to take care of their personal life first before they’re able to do their best at work. So a wise employer will understand that ensuring the former is the only way to ensure the latter.

PTO is always possible

Startups are often bootstrapped, wherein every employee is critical. This is probably the reason why 60 percent of employees work even when they’re on PTO. But it’s simply not sustainable. Alex Trumbull, the CEO and co-founder of Groove, remembers vividly the challenges of making vacations work in the early days of business. “When our only designer leaves for a week, well, nothing is getting designed that week,” he said. “We can’t simply step into each other’s shoes.”

But he chose to offer PTO to his employees nonetheless. What he changed, instead, was the way he executed on the workload. He included time off into every project to buffer missed milestones and stalls, and he frontloaded the work by budgeting less work before an employee was expected to go on vacation.

In this case, employees have made it clear that PTO is an important perk. Without a federally regulated policy, the choice is ultimately up to the employer, and they’ll find out what workers want soon enough, during the next round of recruitment.

Prior to becoming a global copywriter for TSheets by QuickBooks, a time tracking and scheduling solution for small businesses, Dottie Chong spent 15 years in marketing communications and content management focused on driving engagement and brand affinity.