Monday, March 31, 2014

Paid time off is good for employees and employers

The Arizona desert is the perfect place to be productive and get work done. As I write this I am headed back to Idaho from sunny Phoenix, Ariz., where I spent spring break.

During our five-day family vacation, I have answered e-mails, spoken to insurance underwriters, scheduled interviews and meetings, written new employment policies and updated job descriptions. All this productivity has taken place in between sightseeing, shopping, swimming, MLB pre-season games and time with friends.

Despite the fact that I own and manage my own company, I relate more to today’s average employee. Like most employees, the workplace extends my office, hours typically aren’t Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and if a client calls with a question when I am on vacation I answer it.

Businesses continue to change and conform to societal trends and demands. With markets expanding globally and the public demanding 24/7 operations, staffing and managing businesses has never been more challenging. Employees are tasked with more to do in their day-to-day duties, while attendance at work is crucial for business operations.

So the question then becomes, are there benefits to offering and taking paid time off away from work? The answer for both businesses and employees is simple -– yes.

Currently U.S. employment regulations do not legally mandate that employers offer any paid  time off. According to the United States is the only advanced economy that does not require employers to offer paid time off, lagging behind countries like Canada, Japan,   France, etc. This means it’s up to employers to voluntarily offer paid time off to their employees in the United States.

Most U.S. employers offer paid time off, right? Not quite. According to, it's only one out of four. Companies that pay lower wages, have part-time employees and are small businesses are more likely to not offer paid time off.

Offering paid time off has a number of benefits that can impact and cost a company far less than the paid time off employees may take during the year. Paid time off allows employees to have a work-life balance without the worry of lost or decreased income for the employees.

As employees are required to work longer and harder hours as a part of 24/7 business operations, job-related stress can be a major concern in the workplace. Job-related stress leads to lower productivity, increased absenteeism, lower employee morale, health issues  and high turnover. Paid time off can not only significantly decrease work-related stress, it can also be beneficial to the economy. As employees are allowed to take paid time off from work, they are able to take vacations, go shopping, eat at restaurants, and enjoy other recreational activities, all benefitting the economy.

So how does a business come up with a paid time off policy if they don’t have one in place? The Internet is filled with ideas on policies that can get a company started in the right direction. Business and management consultants have a vast knowledge of how to draft a paid time off policy -- what to include and specific suggestions on key points.

While businesses may worry about an employee missing work, and have to financially pay for the employee being away from the workplace with paid time of, the benefits of offering paid time off far exceed the costs.