How to Make Employee Paid Leave Pay Off for Your Business


Paid time off (PTO) is one of the single most important benefits an employer can offer. It impacts recruiting, retention, morale, employee wellness and productivity in innumerable ways.

Although paid leave may appear to be a costly expense for a business, it offers greater returns to employers—and employees—than you might think.

Companies that offer paid time off often report that the costs are outweighed by the rewards of increased employee productivity and job satisfaction. According to an Ernst & Young survey, more than 90 percent of employers that offered paid family and medical leave benefits reported that offering them was positive or neutral for their business in areas such as employee morale and turnover, productivity, and profitability.

Creating a paid time off policy that positively impacts both your business and your employee's work-life balance is easier than you might think but does require having a plan in place.

Here are some tips to make paid time off a benefit that truly pays off for everyone at your business:

Have a clear program in place. The chances of one of your employees quitting can decrease if you offer paid leave. This makes PTO a valuable tool for retaining and attracting workers. Create a paid leave program that reflects your company's values, build it into your policies, and then publicize it widely—to current as well as prospective employees. Make sure that the policy includes clear guidelines for communication and manager approval and holds employees responsible for meeting deadlines and transitioning work.

Sick Time, Vacation Time and PTO. Will you offer different buckets of paid time off? Do employees need to differentiate between calling in sick and planning a holiday trip? Or will you offer one set number of PTO days to be used at your employees' discretion. What works for one business might not be right for yours. Consider speaking with a diverse group of your staff to learn more about what they're seeking and tailor your offering to meet those needs.

Remember that flexibility drives value.Avoid putting too many restrictions on how employees use their PTO. If they are managing their work, communicating with you or their managers, and ensuring that coworkers aren't shouldering too many of their responsibilities, then trust them to use their time off as they need it.

Be prepared for employees to use the benefit. Paid leave is highly valued by employees, so it shouldn't be a surprise when employees take time off. Having a plan in place will minimize how disruptive employee absences can be. Be sure to cross-train your staff so that work doesn't have to wait for someone to return to the office. Consider tracking planned time off on a shared calendar accessible to all employees. Keep information flowing to everyone involved, so that no one is ever caught off-guard.

Offering paid leave to employees shows that you care about them and that they are valuable members of your team. With the right plan in place, you'll benefit, as well, with lower turnover and higher employee morale and productivity. That's good for you and your bottom line.

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