As the past few years have shown, just offering a competitive salary and traditional benefits isn’t enough to attract top talent amidst a tight labor market and inflation. These factors have pushed companies to rethink benefits and invest in company culture to attract and retain top talent.
Many companies trying to keep up in a competitive and fast-paced market upped their benefits to include unique offerings like student loan debt relief to commuter benefits.
One of the most popular and desired benefits offered is Paid Time Off (PTO) – but new research from Sorbet’s 2022 PTO Report shows that although the number of days has increased, employees are actually taking less PTO time compared to years prior.
The PTO paradox
According to the report, PTO usage has dipped significantly since the COVID-19 pandemic, with over half (55%) of PTO going unused, compared to about a quarter (28%) in 2019. Unused time off culminates in an average employee holding over $3,000 in accrued time.
There’s no denying that COVID-19 changed the way we do work – and the way we take time off work. Forty percent of employers changed their policy on PTO during the pandemic, and 34% increased their PTO allocation.
The report also found a gender discrepancy in using PTO and allocation, with males getting more PTO days and using them more than female respondents. Lower-wage employees take 52% less time off than those who earn higher wages.
Although almost half (44%) of employees take time off year-round, others take time off during specific times of year, such as:
- End-of-year holidays such as Christmas (20%)
- Spring break (29%), and
- Summer vacation (7%).
Why this is happening – and how you can help
The pandemic has undoubtedly changed the way employees take time off, with 43% of respondents saying that they have taken less time off since the pandemic began, and 31% of respondents say that taking time off in a hybrid schedule is difficult.
Other reasons employees don’t use PTO days include guilt and shame about taking time off, especially among Gen Z, and feeling that it’s logistically difficult to schedule time off. Nearly a quarter (24%) of respondents said they don’t feel comfortable asking their manager for time off.
As an HR pro, it’s important to make sure that employees are taking the time off they need and deserve. Otherwise, employees may end up feeling burned out and disengaged, and accrued time off can be an unpredictable liability when it comes to payouts.
Here are some ways you can encourage employees to take time off.
- Create a culture that encourages time off so employees don’t feel guilty about taking time off
- Regularly remind employees about your time off policy and the dangers of overworking, and
- Create company holidays, such as closing the office between Christmas and New Year, to make sure all employees are able to take time off.