Q&A: Does your PTO measure up to the summer vacation season?

Jean Spencer, Senior Manager of Integrated Campaigns at Zenefits.
Jun 23, 2022

Summer has arrived! And you know what that means? Vacations of all types and sizes. That being said, 46% of workers feel nervous about taking PTO because of either too much work or they are afraid of the career repercussions. Jean Spencer, Director of Integrated Marketing at TriNet-Zenefits, joins the show to share what organizations […]

Summer has arrived! And you know what that means? Vacations of all types and sizes. That being said, 46% of workers feel nervous about taking PTO because of either too much work or they are afraid of the career repercussions.

Jean Spencer, Director of Integrated Marketing at TriNet-Zenefits, joins the show to share what organizations can do to help their employees take some time off to rest and recharge this summer season.

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On this episode, you’ll hear:

  • [01:58] Benefits of taking PTO
  • [02:52] Physical and mental benefits of taking time off
  • [04:12] What employers should offer as a PTO policy to employees
  • [06:40] The benefits of either unlimited or limited PTO
  • [10:43] How Trinet-Zenefits can help you manage time off



Welcome to pops the show that shows you how to shift from human resources, paperwork to people, operations for the new world of work. How by answering one question at a time I’m gene Spencer, director of integrated marketing here at tri benefits here to help answer questions about PTO or paid time off, and what a day to be recording such a podcast.

As I record this it’s June 8th, I’m in Boulder, Colorado. The birds are chirping outside my window and I’m sitting here as we transition from spring to summer, feeling like I’m ready to play, ready to plan, ready to be outside and ready to take that vacation I’ve been dreaming about for months. And maybe you’re like me, but if you’re also like me, maybe you’re worried that planning trips and vacations, maybe you’re worried about what kind of impact that might have on you professionally.

And actually it’s not just me that worries about that kind of thing. More than almost half 46% of workers feel nervous about taking PTO because either they one have too much work to do, or two are afraid of the career repercussions that might, that might have down the line on them professionally. But.

We’re here to share in this podcast, some upsides of PTO, and to encourage you to take that time off when it’s all said and done. So stay with me. If you wanna learn about these next couple things in this podcast, one, the benefits of taking PTO as a personal choice, two, some of the employer benefits of offering unlimited, unlimited PTO, and three, a little bit about how benefits TriNet benefits can help you.

If you are an employer, manage your PTO. So let’s get started first off. What are some of the benefits of taking PTO as a personal choice? So taking PTO is obviously a choice. Many people are offered it with their employment. The average number of days of PTO in the United States is 10. Days of PTO. This is far fewer than many international countries, but the benefits of taking your PTO are high according to several researchers.

And I’m just pulling up this information. Now, as we speak, taking PTO improves your physical health, it improves your mental health. It supports greater wellbeing. It increases your mental motivation. It improves your familial relationships. It decreases burnout and overall it increases your happiness. So there’s a lot we could go into here, but I’m just gonna jump into a couple of the ones I think are more important.

So let’s look at physical health. The New York times reported that if you take a vacation every two years, compared to every six years, you’ll lessen your risk of coronary heart disease for heart attacks. Okay, who doesn’t wanna not have heart attack everyone. So take that vacation. The more vacations you take, you take on less stress.

You have, you end up doing your job better and, and your risk for coronary heart disease lessons. Number two, improved mental health. So neuroscientists have also found that chronic exposure to stress can alter your brain structure and bring on anxiety and depression. So if you are. Chronically exposed to the stress of your work environment.

You are literally altering your brain structure and chemistry to reduce your mental health capacity and ability to stay happy and productive. So there’s many other reasons why taking PTO for a personal health and, uh, professional health is good. I’m referencing a document here from Alina health, a L L I N a.

Dot org, but there’s lots of literature out there that suggests the positive improvements in your personal and professional life that can be made by taking PTO. But what if you’re an employee? There’s a lot of questions around PTO that are relate to. What should I offer as a PTO policy to my employees and why?

And I wanna spend some time here because I think it’s some of the most interesting stuff. So our internal research, again, China benefits is a SaaS platform that provides. People operations platform for small and mid-size businesses. So that means we help people with HR. We help people with payroll benefits and also PTO management.

And we’ve done some in-house research that suggests that offering PTO is not only the, the number one or number two thing that employees are seeking when finding an employer. But also it is one of the main reasons they would leave an employer if it’s not offered to them. So when you’re thinking about attracting and retaining top talent, you’ve gotta start thinking about your PTO policy.

So then the question is, okay, we’re gonna have a PTO policy. This is going to help attract. Good workers, and it’s gonna help keep our top talent, but what should I offer to my employees? And we have a free guide called the state of PTO report that talks about various ways that people can do PTO policies.

And really it’s up to you. What’s in your PTO policy. Obviously there are. Federally mandated vacation days for holidays. When it comes to how many days you’re gonna allocate for paid time off, this is fully paid time that your employees can take off. It runs the gamut. So some people offer 10 days. Some people offer five days.

Some people call it PTO. Some people call it FTO, flexible time off. Some people have floating holidays. There’s lots of different ways to give your employees essentially. Paid compensated time off, but what you want to strive for in my professional opinion, if you wanna attract top talent is flexibility.

So your staff wants to have flexibility to both live their life. And meet their social or familial obligations while also meeting their professional obligations. And that’s met by being flexible with what their needs are, and that could come in the form of PTO, but it could come in the form of many other options as well.

What I wanna spend time on in this podcast a little bit more is what’s the difference between offering 10 days say of PTO versus an unlimited PTO policy. So, if you’ve been thinking about offering unlimited PTO policy, what that means is you’re giving your employees or staff the responsibility and trust that they will take time off that they manage responsibly and in accordance probably with their manager.

So they’re still a, an approval process likely, but you’re saying we’re not gonna limit this or cap your time off at 10 days, but we’re gonna look at you as a professional and as a human, to be able to. Self monitor how much time you’re taking off in any given period. The benefits of this are you’re providing incredible amount of flexibility and trust in your staff, developing deeper relationships and a good work ethic or relationship.

And in addition, people are taking paid time off when they want to. So some companies can run into the problem of if they have limited or capped PTO policies that many people want to lump their PTO with a federal holiday. And now you’re running into problems of being short staff. Around holidays or key moments in the calendar year with unlimited PTO, some employers state that they feel the amount of vacations is more spread out throughout the year and amongst their staff, which could be beneficial.

The other benefit of unlimited PTO for employers is without a stated amount of paid time off employers, aren’t responsible for paying that paid time off requirement at the end of that employee, employer. Relationship. So if you do provide 10 days say, or an accrual, which is another way you can do PTO after a certain amount of tenure, you accrue a certain amount of days or hours of PTO that PTO that’s promised versus a versus an unlimited plan needs to be paid out in an employee’s paycheck upon their termination for unused hours.

So those could be some benefits of doing an unlimited PTO policy, you know, a, a more structured PTO policy has the benefits. You have more understanding of who is out for which amount of days you have greater, um, resilience in your workforce for actually how many people are in your office or working any given day.

And also employees can do things like stack up or accrue. Um, if it’s an accrual plan PTO for a longer stints of vacation, I think regardless of which PTO policy you decide to choose as an employer, Again, the benefit in the data suggests at least in today’s labor market, people are looking for employers who provide flexibility and really see them as humans.

So what does your PTO policy say about your company? Who are you trying to attract? What fiscally are you trying to do with your PTO policy and what do you need from your workforce? Those are some kind of guiding questions you can ask yourself. If you’re an HR manager. Or a business owner or of your HR staff, if you’re a part of that decision making process.

Now, the last thing, um, I promised in this podcast, so we’ve gone over some benefits of, of taking PTOs of personal choice. Obviously there’s health benefits, there’s mental health benefits. I referenced a, a blog post that you should check out. I’ll put it in the meeting or the podcast notes below. But there’s many, many reasons you should take time off just for rest and recouping your energy to do your job.

Then we talked about some employer stances on PTO. What are some benefits of, of unlimited PTO versus a, a structured PTO policy? I’m not here to give guidance on how much or little you should, you should allocate to PTO, but. One of the main takeaways you should, you should take from this podcast is if you’re looking to appease to the labor market right now, go for flexibility.

That’s what people are looking for. And finally, I wanted to touch on how Zen TriNet benefits can help your business. If you are an HR decision maker or business owner with PTO. So we are a company who services tens of thousands of small and mid-size businesses with, um, a variety of HR needs. But one of the main ones that comes up is PTO management.

Because it can be complicated and manual and very tactical and the calculations of PTO time, PTO payouts accruals can be challenging for an HR manager. And I just wanted to give it quick, shout out to our software, which can manage that for your small or mid-size businesses in business in a really easy way, because our.

HR is syncing natively with payroll. Any kind of adjustment to payroll will be reflected in any given worker’s individual compensation. And in addition, admins and employees have access to a PTO sort of portal or mini app within the app where employees can request. Paid time off for various amounts of time or days, and admins can go in and approve or reject that.

And if that time is approved, it’s automatically deducted at the rates that you guys have put into your PTO policy. From the outset into your employee’s paychecks. This makes PTO management. Really a lot easier for people managing HR in small size mid-size businesses. And in addition, we can help with pre-made policies that, that maybe if you don’t have something you can lean on.

So just wanted to spend some time. This season is to the season it’s it’s summer. And I’m thinking about my own PTO, and I know many people, both employers and employees are thinking about their PTO as well as their policies for their businesses and who they wanna work for. So, hopefully this was a beneficial and educational podcast about PTO.

We do have additional resources that are downloadable and free that I’ll put in the meeting notes. If you want to look at, uh, more PTO examples or how people are thinking about it. Otherwise, I wish you a very happy spring and summer, and you can always check out the, this people operations podcast for other tough, tough topics related to HR.

Do you have a question for us? Click the link in the show notes, or if you’ve got other ideas and feedback about our show, send them to podcast zits dot com’s podcast. Z E N E F I T s.com.

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Every week, we share the decisions, struggles, and successes for keeping up with an evolving workforce and a changing workplace. No matter if you’ve been in HR or are just getting started, this combination of transformational stories with actionable ideas, as well as context on hot issues, keeps you up-to-date while answering the questions you didn’t even know you had.

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