The surprising link between PTO and employee satisfaction

When it comes to recruitment and retention, you may think you’ve got your team figured out. However, a new survey by Accountemps shows that there can be a significant disconnect between what employers think their employees want – and what employees actually want. The company talked to CFOs and employees and asked which benefits they thought were most important.[1]

The differences in their responses may surprise you. Here’s a look at the findings:

What differences did the survey show?

CFOs ranked these five non-compensation benefits as being the most important to employees:

  • 41% of CFOs said better benefits
  • 19% of CFOs said more vacation time
  • 15% of CFOs said scheduling flexibility
  • 12% of CFOs said training and professional development
  • 11% of CFOs said perks such as meals, subsidized transportation, and other amenities

In contrast, here are the top five most desired non-compensation benefits according to employees at the surveyed organizations:

  • 30% of employees said more vacation time
  • 26% of employees said better benefits
  • 19% of employees said scheduling flexibility
  • 15% of employees said training and professional development
  • 9% of employees said perks such as meals, subsidized transportation, and other amenities

Key Takeaway: The importance of work-life balance

Employee responses shows that time away from work is more important than any other benefit. Paid time off is critical to work-life balance – which makes it key to employee satisfaction. Offering adequate paid time off can help you effectively compete with other employers in your industry and region – but don’t forget to encourage workers to take advantage of available paid time.

You can help by creating a culture that does not penalize or negatively view those that do take vacation time. A recent study showed that more than 40% of employees don’t use their accrued vacation time. That’s a loss for them, for you, and your company.

Changing the culture around paid time off can be a quick switch

One of biggest contributors to employee dissatisfaction is a workplace culture that discourages individuals from taking paid time off. An easy way to improve employee satisfaction is to create policies and norms that encourage employees to use their time off.

At ABD, our HR team has implemented a few cost-effective approaches that help address the problem of employees not using enough of their PTO. Here are some of the methods we use:

  • We reward employees to take their PTO with points in our wellness program.
  • We allow employees to “donate” their PTO to a pool that helps employees who have emergencies and need the extra days of PTO to pull from.
  • We show available time off on pay stubs and send reminders to employees to take their paid time or donate it.

By implementing these changes, we’ve created a culture that not only supports paid time off, but rewards those who utilize the benefit as well. These small tweaks will help us create a positive vibe around taking PTO and in turn will help boost employee moral! We can’t uphold our ethos of Work, Love, Play if we don’t encourage those to take time to “Love and Play”.

Are your benefits aligned with what your employees want?

If you want to ensure that your benefits offerings align with employee wishes, the ABD Team can help. Contact us to discuss benefits programs, wellness programs, company culture and more.


[1] “Beyond Salary, What Do Employees Really Want in 2015?”

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