In a recent case study detailing what worked and what didn’t, Dan Bengyak, Vice President of Administrative Services at Montefiore St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital in Newburgh, NY, shares how his company dealt with a vacation time issue:
We had an interesting problem on our hands when it came to employees’ vacation time — they had too much of it.
The majority of our staff was accruing a ton of PTO, and the demands of their jobs made it nearly impossible to use it all.
We knew this was a sore spot for employees — those who left often mentioned it in the exit interview. We didn’t want people moving on with a bad taste in their mouth.
It was clear we needed to come up with a way to ensure the PTO got used without impacting our productivity.
During this time, we’d also been discussing ways to boost our recruitment efforts for new grads.
That’s when we had the idea to start a student loan repayment benefit, and we’d use employees’ extra PTO to do it.
Our CFO was very receptive to the idea since it was so cost effective. Vacation time was already in the budget, so all we had to do was move some money around.
Here’s how the program works. Twice a year, any full- or part-time employee can take 30 to 75 hours of their unused PTO and convert it into student debt payment.
This means our people can be paying off as much as $5,000 of debt a year. The best part? Nearly every employee can take advantage of this.
When we first rolled it out, we assumed this benefit would mainly impact employees fresh out of college. But so many more workers were interested in the perk.
There were older employees who’d been with us for a long time who wanted to go back to school. We also had parents who’d taken out student loans on their kids’ behalf.
We quickly realized this benefit was going to have a much bigger impact than on just new young grads.
When we first announced the benefit, we were expecting a little hesitation and a lot of questions. Instead, we got cheers and applause!
We were blown away by the employee response — it’s by far the best reaction we’ve ever received when rolling out a new benefit.
The program launched at the start of the year, and we had 40 people sign up right away.
We’re expecting some major growth and wouldn’t be surprised to see as many as 100 people participating by the end of the year.
Improvements all around
We figured this would help with recruiting efforts, but it’s worked wonders on retention, too.
Since parents with college kids can take advantage of this benefit, we have them practically guaranteed to stay on throughout their children’s college years.
Not only that, but morale has gone up. Now, our people don’t feel like their PTO is slipping away, and their student debt is much more manageable.