Today’s post comes to us from Workforce Institute board member, bestselling author and managing partner of Workplace Intelligence, Dan Schawbel. An extended version of this article appeared in Dan’s weekly newsletter.

Paid time off (PTO) is an employer-provided benefit that grants employees compensation for personal time off, vacation days, federal holidays, sick leave, and maternity and paternity leave. Currently, PTO policies are not a requirement of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Yet over the past half-century, the share of moms who are working either full or part-time has increased from 51% to 72%, and almost half of two-parent families now include two full-time working parents. Given this trend and the recent developments around COVID-19, now more than ever it’s clear that ALL workers should have access to paid time off (among other benefits).

Both employees and employers benefit from paid time off

For employees, paid time off is an important part of balancing their professional and personal life. It allows them to take breaks from work—whether vacations or ‘staycations’—which helps them avoid burnout. This is especially important right now: due to the pandemic, many people are working additional hours, dealing with mental health issues, or struggling to find a work-life balance. But despite the benefits of taking a break from work, 55% of American workers don’t use their vacation time. This amounts to 768 million vacation days that go unused every year.

Offering paid time off also lets employees attend to their personal obligations, from doctors’ appointments to home improvement projects. Or, employees may simply need time to recuperate from an injury or illness (like COVID-19). When they can’t take time off to recover, the quality of their work suffers and they’re more likely to spread their illness to colleagues and customers. For women, paid leave helps them remain in the workforce throughout their careers. Access to paid leave is estimated to increase mothers’ labor force participation by approximately 20% during the first year following their child’s birth, an increase that remains significant up to five years later. New mothers who take paid leave are also 54% more likely to report wage increases.

For employers, offering paid time off provides several benefits. It allows them to reduce unscheduled absences and better plan for coverage because employees can schedule days off in advance rather than calling in sick. In fact, employers who offer PTO see a 6% to 8% decrease in employees who miss work without giving notice. Providing paid leave can also boost employees’ physical and mental health, attitudes toward work, and productivity, all of which benefit the business.

In addition, PTO is a key component of the employee value proposition, especially for women. Over half (58%) of employers say that offering paid leave helps them attract talent. However, it’s also about retention—employees are more likely to stay with their company when their needs are met and they feel valued. With the average cost of hiring a new employee approximately $4,000, it’s much more financially advisable to pay for time off versus risk losing a team member.

The U.S. is lagging, but some states are setting an example

While the benefits of paid time off are clear, the U.S. is the only country among 41 nations that does not mandate any paid parental leave. In Brazil, Spain, Austria, and many other countries, employees are entitled to 30 days' leave, typically after some period of employment. One state paving the way is California, which allows for six weeks of parental or family leave and up to 52 weeks for personal medical needs. The program has increased the average income of new mothers by $3,407 and reduced their risk of dropping below the poverty line by 10.2%. Under the program, the labor force participation of caregivers also increased. And, the vast majority of California employers reported positive or neutral effects on employee productivity (89%) and profitability/performance (91%).

Providing paid time off builds a healthier workforce

Despite decades of slow progress, COVID-19 is reigniting the discussion around paid leave for lawmakers and employers alike. Companies know that the benefits of giving workers PTO far outweigh the costs, and employee sentiments haven’t changed—paid time off is consistently the #1 most desired benefit. So, if you expect your workers to put in more hours, especially during the pandemic, then recognize that they will need time off. And acknowledge that in order to create a healthier and more human-centric workplace, you have to give employees a break so that they can be fulfilled in all aspects of their personal and professional lives. It’s simply the right thing to do.

As we enter a new year, it's always interesting to reflect on what we accomplished and what mattered most to us in the prior year so we can change course as needed in the year to come. Here at the Workforce Institute @Kronos, we saw some significant changes in 2017.   We launched The Workforce Institute in Europe,  redesigned and relaunched our website, and welcomed new board members who'll help us expand our perspective. 

Throughout 2017, we continued to publish articles and podcasts to share those perspectives.  Some of the topics you found most interesting this year included implementing an unlimited vacation policy, the future of workplace technology, and manager effectiveness.  Whether you’re currently snowed in or just need a break from being back to the grind, we hope you’ll take a few minutes to read through the top 10 most popular posts we published here at The Workforce Institute in 2017.  And if you have topics you’d like us to write about in 2018 – or even better, if you’re interested in contributing to this blog yourself – please let us know by commenting on this post.

Thank you to all of our guest authors in 2017, and Happy New Year!

My children want you to know that I broke my Outlook fast during our vacation together in Australia and New Zealand. I checked work email after two weeks of my (supposed to be three week) work email fast. As you can see from the photo, we were having a very laid back time, with nary an Orc or Troll around to trouble us.  I was completely relaxed without email, however a 3-hour ferry ride between the southern and northern islands of New Zealand with WIFI afforded me an irresistible opportunity to check in on the work front.

And you know what? My crack team had everything under control. Problems had arisen - and they handled them like the pros they are. Checking in made me more relaxed. Returning to work on Monday was easier because I knew what my priorities were without plowing through 2000 emails in one fell swoop.

I'll be talking about the pros and cons of unplugging in an upcoming podcast with William Tincup and Sharlyn Lauby, and also on DriveThru HR radio on September 25th.

Let me know - where do you come down on the topic of staying connected to work when you're on vacation?




As I mentioned recently, I'm starting a 3-week vacation on Friday.  One of the men who works for me told me last week that although he views me as highly organized under normal circumstances, he believes I've taken organization to a whole new level as I prepare to be gone.  And it's true.  I don't want my boss, my team, my colleagues or anyone else to experience any downside related to my absence.

On the other hand, I want to BE on vacation.  I'm not going to check work-related voice mail or email for three weeks.  I've committed to my family that I'll turn off the Outlook sync to my iPhone and iPad.  This is a risky move in a world where more employees than not feel they need to check email when they are on vacation according to survey after survey.

Now, I need this job and I like this job.  There will be (secret) ways to reach me known only to my assistant and my boss's assistant.  I have prepared myself and my team.  My team members are all competent professionals and they will keep the machine running smoothly while I'm gone.  I still hope they'll miss me just a little bit...

Recommended reading this week:

The Best Way to Innovate Today via @hrbartender

The Elements of (Employee) Attraction via @HRExecMag

Yes, Change IS Good For Us – It’s The Reality of Modern Leadership via @TLNT_com

Linking Neuroscience and #HR via @suemeisinger @HRExecMag

The Power of Positive Feedback – and How It Can Fuel Employee Behavior via @TLNT_com

Kronites are talking about:

New Time Well Spent #Cartoon: #overtime

Career-Pathways in Community-based Care: The Time Is Now: via @WF_Institute

Change Management for Frontline Managers via @SmarterCafe

How technology can help bridge the generational gap in the UK’s workforce via @simonmacpherson

Are Your Interns Feeling the Love? via @WF_Institute

Why #Kronos? The training experience you expect! via @SmarterCafe

RT @SmarterCafe: Cloud: "You will be assimilated."

The “warmest hello” I’d ever seen… via @sreeseRNMBA

A Lighter Look At Big Data via @simonmacpherson @KronosUK

Waiting for the sun… but not the #cloud. via @SmarterCafe

@Forever21 Selects #Kronos as Global Workforce Management Vendor

What It Takes to Become a Best Place to Work Company via @hrbartender

[VIDEO] #Kronos interns get hands-on work experience and have fun at the same time! #Kronolympics

Last week to save $200 on KronosWorks 2013 registration! Don't miss the event of the year, sign up today: #KW2013

Kronos Reports Outstanding Third-Quarter Results; Product Bookings Increase 26%

RT @pjtec: #Forever21 Selects #Kronos for Global Workforce Management @KronosInc #WFM #EnSW

Managing Labor Cost to Serve: The Lean Path from Product to Profit via @IndustryWeek




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