With all the modern employee challenges employers face, such as high turnover and the Great Resignation, companies need to think out of the box when it comes to benefits. One place to do that is PTO.
Every employee is different. It’d be great if employers could create a PTO plan where every employee designed their own personal PTO plan. Because let’s face it, one-size-fits-all plans don’t really work.
One size doesn’t fit all
Is this fair? An employee who’s been at a company one year gets the same PTO as someone who’s worked there 20 years. Yet that’s what one-size-fits-all plans do. This can lead to disgruntled senior workers, giving them a reason to fly the coop. And that’s something no employer wants in today’s world.
And benefits like four-day work weeks may seem like they’d make every employee happy. In actuality, it’s forcing employees to take time off regardless of their preferences and choice.
Recently, one company took all of this to heart. As a fintech company that predicts employees’ PTO needs, it thought, how would it look if it wasn’t meeting its employees’ PTO needs?
It wanted its new PTO policy to underscore its mission to create a cultural shift around PTO. The desired goal: Prioritize employee wellness. It wanted to do this by promoting the use of data and technology to legitimize time away from work for de-stressing and recharging through flexible and individualized time plans.
Meeting employees needs
The firm wanted to make sure its employees’ needs were being met. After all, burnout was running rampant across the country due to the pandemic. Despite touting their current PTO policy exceeded the average company by 40%, it wanted to do more.
It didn’t want to offer “stunt” benefits like the four-day work week that some companies have been implementing since the pandemic. It wanted a plan where employees take vacation when they want and when it’s beneficial for them, not when they were forced to.
“After speaking to employers throughout the pandemic who expressed concerns about employees not taking enough PTO, we realized that the concept of paid time off was in dire need of a restructure. The same old approach to PTO isn’t cutting it anymore, and companies need to start finding new ways of encouraging employees to take their hard-earned time off,” said Veetahl Eilat-Raichel, CEO of Sorbet. “Additionally, the unpredictability of unused PTO days left on the books can have a negative impact on a company’s balance sheets. This is why we created a ‘win-win’ solution that enables CFOs to reduce their financial liability and empowers employees to take the time off that they earned while reducing burnout and turnover.”
So, the new plan offered employees 25 PTO days a year. And the company encouraged employees to spend at least 15 paid days away from work each year. But here’s something a little different. The firm also allowed employees to cash out 10 days at any given point during the year.
A little extra for long-term people
In addition, long-term employees (those that had been with the company over three years) got an extra five days of PTO for a total of 30 days and could cash out 12 days.
The employer felt this was a novel approach to PTO that recognized that all employee have their own needs and may want to spend their PTO differently from others and should be allowed to do so whenever possible.
“Employees today are looking beyond outdated ‘one size fits all’ PTO benefits plans, which is why we’re thrilled to give our employees more opportunities to make their own choices and take control of their hard-earned time off, no questions asked,” said Eilat-Raichel. “A common problem with PTO is employees often do not feel comfortable asking for time away, citing fears of retribution or replacement. An integral part of Sorbet’s culture is understanding it’s in everyone’s best interest to take appropriate time away from work. We want to lead by example and show how we give our team the ability to rest and recharge, which boosts productivity and overall job satisfaction.”
Went one step further
But that wasn’t all the company did. It took the program one step further to show its commitment to the changing culture and normalizing self-care, so it made several significant changes to its internal processes.
The first change: All time off taken up to one day would be pre-approved. So no second guessing from managers, and employees could take the time when they needed it.
Now, the new plan required managers to track PTO usage. And they’d be evaluated on their employees’ use of their PTO, which would influence their annual performance review.
The company provided employees with its app to help them plan their PTO. It allows them to see when the best time to take a vacation is. It also allows them to seamlessly cash out on the days the algorithm predicts they will not use and spend the value of the cash on unique travel and wellness rewards and perks with its national and local brands.
According to the company, on average employees gain about $3,000 in cashed out days a year which otherwise would be lost under use-it-or-lose-it plans.