HR Tech Number of the Day: using PTO benefits

While the pandemic has fueled burnout and record-high stress levels among employees, many still aren’t taking time off from work.

“On average, one of every two of your employees aren’t taking full advantage of their PTO benefits,” Adam Gordon, co-founder of PTO Genius, a tech solution used by employers to help manage PTO, said Thursday during HRE’s HR Tech Virtual Conference. “And that’s crazy because PTO is the second most-requested benefit across all generations [behind medical, dental and vision].”

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What it means to HR leaders

Paid time off is undoubtedly an important and desired benefit—so, what’s happening that’s preventing so many employees to take their time off? It’s due to several reasons, Gordon said, including fear (of returning to a mountain of work, missing out, falling behind, being laid off); workplace pressures (too much work to do, a manager who discourages PTO); guilt (being away for too long, taking off when we’re so busy) and financial reasons (like an employee not having money for a vacation).

“Whatever the reason is, it has a very real effect on your employees and your company,” Gordon said. “When employees don’t take time off, it increases stress and anxiety, causing burnout and disengagement.”

Related: Burnout is soaring. Here are 7 ways employers can help

It affects employers too, impacting their bottom lines in lost revenue and PTO liability.

Especially with the Great Resignation in full swing—as well as across-the-board low employee engagement numbers—it’s important that employers encourage employees to use their PTO benefits, or things will inevitably worsen. The best thing to do, he said, is to “plan out a potential outreach strategy based on employees who are at the highest risk of burnout that have no scheduled PTO.”

That can be a tedious task, so tech solutions can help manage it, he said. Gordon’s PTO Genius, for instance, relies on a company’s HRIS data or other leave management software to track individual and collective PTO use. It also uses AI to surface company-friendly times for employees to take time off, and then proactively nudges them to use their time.

“The idea here is to nudge employees to take time off proportional to their likelihood of being low on productivity and high on burnout,” he said.

Registered attendees can click here to view the full session.

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Kathryn Mayer
Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s former benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver.