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Paid Time Off Policies are Opportunities for Employers

Paid time off usage by employees is changing due to the Covid-19 pandemic and remote work.  Employers have an opportunity to help their workforce cash in their unused paid time off (PTO) for other benefits.

That’s according to a recent article that appeared in Employee Benefit News.  The article highlighted a new benefit some employers are offering, where employees can turn in their unused PTO.  By doing so, the employees can reap other benefits.  This might be putting the unused benefit toward funding retirement savings or paying off their student loans.

Employees left 33% of their paid time off as unused in 2020, reported the U.S. Travel Association.  The Employee Benefit News article spotlighted a solution called PTO Exchange.  PTO Exchange was founded in 2017 to solve the problem of employees not using, and losing, their PTO.  PTO Exchange enables employees to cash in their unused vacation hours for other options.  Workers even have the option to offer sick days to co-workers, if they choose.

A benefit like PTO Exchange ensures unused vacation and sick time gets put to use by employees.  It can go toward their 401(k), student loans, emergency savings, or be used in other creative ways.  It can be a compelling benefit to offer to increase the competitiveness of your offerings.  Especially at a time when employers need to get more creative about the benefits they provide.  With employees switching jobs more frequently than ever before, now may be the time to look at offering a creative benefit like this.

In addition, remote work has only exacerbated the problem of employees not using paid time off.  Since March 2020, many American workers have shortened, postponed, or cancelled planned time off, according to a study from financial blog, IPX.  Employers should encourage their workforce to take time off, as they need it now more than ever.  Virtual work means the line between work and home has become blurred.  In addition, the economic and financial uncertainty introduced by the pandemic has caused many employees to re-prioritize needs.  That means they’re requesting less time off, too.

Employers should also consider changing their paid time off policies as employees choose to use their time off differently.  Rollovers and increased flexibility aren’t the answer.  More beneficial may be to give employees control over how they use their paid time off.  This lets employees use PTO in a way that works best for their needs, whether they be social, personal, or mental, to improve their overall well being.  Flexibility is important to employees, and their mental health is critical to their success.  A happier workforce is a more productive workforce.  Look at creative ways to overhaul your current PTO policies.  This could be a win-win for both your company and your employees!

Steff Chalk

Steff Chalk

Managing Editor at 401kTV
Steff C. Chalk is Executive Director of The Retirement Advisor University, a collaboration with UCLA Anderson School of Management Executive Education. Steff also serves as Executive Director of The Plan Sponsor University and is current faculty of The Retirement Adviser University.
Steff Chalk
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