What is Enough PTO?


According to the human resources professional accreditation association, SHRM, the average number of annual vacation days varies from 8-22, sick days from 7-19 with a pretty standard 4 personal days and 8 paid holidays. Over 40% of employers have moved to a PTO plan versus this detailed breakdown of time off. What are the pros and cons, and what is enough PTO?

Pros and Cons

Ease of Administration – The manager no longer has to police time off. Since all time off is counted the same no reason to lie about being sick, or use a personal day for vacation and feel bad about it. There don’t have to be policies about time off for bereavement or sick leave as all count under just PTO.

More Standardized – Ninety-one percent of PTO plans award time off based on employee’s length of service not on their level. For new employees the standard is 16 days, 1-5 years 20 days, 7-19 years 25 days and over 20 years 28 days.

Diversity and Privacy – Different people want to take different holidays and PTO allows that without any need to turn it into a statement. Privacy is increased as no reason needs to be given for time taken off. This makes PTO more equitable as well. Parents are often perceived as getting more time off, but since a reason doesn’t need to be given, that choice isn’t highlighted or resented. PTO becomes more objective and more of a level playing field.

Resistance to Using PTO for Sick Time – The trend seems to be thinking of PTO as vacation time and coming to work when sick to avoid “losing” any vacation days. Often employees don’t save any days for the end of the year when they might need a sick day or two. So what is enough PTO? The burden or privilege of managing their time off falls on the employee.

American Resistance to Vacation

Americans are notorious for not taking vacations or other paid time off of work. Time away from work is essential for employee’s well-being and the health of the organization. It improves physical and mental health and employees return to work more productive and creative. Time-off also allows others to be cross-trained and upskilled.

Companies could incentivize employees to take PTO by offering a vacation bonus. Closing the entire company for the same week, like July 4th week or between Christmas and New Year’s, makes everyone take a break at the same time eliminating the workaholics need to not miss out! Some firms have instituted unlimited PTO with clear performance expectations. It is a powerful incentive to attract and retain top talent.

With the candidate driven employment market improving your PTO policies is just one more benefit needed to make your firm desirable and to keep your current employees with you.

Interested in hiring? Contact the Executive Recruiters at Smith Hanley Associates.


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