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A well-crafted PTO policy can increase employee retention

As a growing number of cities, counties and states adopt paid sick leave laws, affected employers across the U.S. may find it beneficial to introduce a paid-time-off, or PTO, program that combines vacation and sick leave days under one umbrella. This not only streamlines the time-off tracking process, but it also helps increase employee retention and wellbeing, leading to increased productivity and overall business success.

While there is not a state paid sick leave mandate in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia has an ordinance in place and the city of Pittsburgh’s paid sick leave law will take effect in mid-March, so local business owners may consider offering a comprehensive PTO program. Below are a few ways this shift can benefit employers and employees alike.

Attract and retain talented workers In the midst of a tight labor market, offering a generous PTO program can bolster a company’s benefits offerings and help attract top talent. PTO allowances that meet or exceed the time granted by competitors can be an affordable way to reinforce employee perks and may even help position the business as an employer of choice in the local area.

However, while some businesses may choose to offer an unlimited PTO policy, it may not be feasible for all companies. An attractive policy could also include abbreviated workweeks, customized schedules or a generous amount of time away from work to enjoy with family or friends.

Promote work-life balance Businesses can support a healthy work-life balance in various ways, such as offering flexible hours, remote work or employee assistance programs. A comprehensive PTO policy can also be an important part of promoting a healthy balance by encouraging employees to have a life outside of the office.

To help reinforce this message, business leaders should set the example, showcasing a healthy work-life balance by utilizing their own PTO. This can help demonstrate to employees that there is no shame in spending time away from the office, as long as it follows
policy guidelines. A healthy relationship with work, which includes taking time off, can benefit all members of the organization and help reduce the likelihood of burnout.

Avoid confusion or conflict

A robust PTO policy should be clear, concise and well-communicated while also providing detailed information, including clarity on how and when employees can request time off. By addressing how PTO requests will be managed if multiple employees request the same days off, as well as how many accrued days can be rolled over to the next calendar year, managers can help alleviate any potential misunderstandings. As with all internal policy documents, the content should be readily available to all employees.

Suit the business’ needs

PTO policies can come in many forms: unlimited or limited, accrued or frontloaded, tiered or fixed. When selecting a plan, consider the nature of the business and its workforce. For instance, a business with high employee turnover may want to avoid a front-loaded policy to help avoid the risk that employees will use their entire allocation before leaving the company. An accrual-based policy, in which employees earn a set amount of time per pay period, can mitigate this risk. Additionally, a tiered program that recognizes tenured staffers with a faster accrual rate may help increase loyalty. This could mean a new employee earns six hours per pay period, while an employee with five or more years at the company may earn 10 hours per pay period. This approach can improve retention and show appreciation for dedicated workers.

PTO is a valuable benefit for workers, but it can also present opportunities for employers. With a well-thought-out, strategic approach to policy development, business leaders can help improve employee retention and engagement, leading to increased productivity and overall business success

Sherice Sargent is a human resource specialist with Insperity, a leading provider of human resources and business performance solutions

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