Giving employees paid time off (PTO) is a benefit that most companies offer to attract and retain high quality employees. Whether your company manages its PTO policy efficiently can determine whether it is costing the company more than it should. Here are a few ways you can work with an HR solutions firm to manage your company PTO and make sure it is being used as intended and not abused.
Maintain a Written Paid Time Off Policy
The first step in efficiently managing your employees’ paid time off (PTO) is to have a written policy that clearly delineates all of the features of the company’s PTO policy. A written policy allows all employees to understand the rules and conditions of using PTO. Not only will a written policy guide employees for their own PTO planning purposes, it will also guide managers and supervisors when they have to approve or deny employee leave requests. A written policy gives them cover if they have to deny the request. As such, the policy assures employees that the company is treating all of them the same when it comes to PTO.
The written policy should address such criteria as the amount of PTO that employees receive, when they become eligible for it, when they can take it, the maximum amount of PTO available, how far in advance requests must be submitted and what approvals are required. Make it clear that approvals must be in writing—a supervisor’s verbal okay is not sufficient. An HR solutions firm can help your company write and maintain a PTO policy to best optimize it for the needs of both you and your employees.
Establish Black Out Periods Up Front
Some businesses have black-out periods, that is, busy periods where PTO is not permissible or permitted only in emergency situations. If your company has black-out periods, those should be defined in the policy.
One way to manage these busy times is to offer incentive pay, such as extra hourly pay or a cash bonus to those who agree to take time off another time when business is less hectic. For example, the Friday after Thanksgiving (aka “Black Friday”) may be a black-out day for retailers. Offer employees a little extra pay to work that day, or offer extra PTO for working that day. You’ll then have the coverage you need, and employees who are happy to be on the job that day.
Encourage or Require PTO Use during Slow Periods
A PTO policy can require or incentivize some of the hours to be used during slow times for the company. For example, the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is often a slow period. Your business may have other slow periods where employee coverage can be slimmed down to a skeleton crew. Your policy can mandate that employees in the positions most affected by these slow periods use some PTO on those dates. Alternatively, your policy can provide incentives to encourage a few employees to work on those dates.
Keep Track of Employee PTO Time
PTO is a generous benefit for employees. It costs the company money. Keeping track of the PTO hours your employees have used and how much time they have left to use is important for several reasons. The first reason is obvious — the PTO benefit will exceed the company budget for PTO if employees are taking more than they have earned. Don’t let it cost more than it should. Another reason is fairness. Without a tracking system, some employees will take more PTO than they are entitled to, while others will not take as much. Eventually, employee morale will suffer.
You can find user-friendly software that will allow your company to keep accurate track of employee PTO usage. If your company already uses time and attendance software that tracks PTO, make sure the software you use is able to provide your company with useful metrics on the PTO use. That data can help you identify excessive use, suggesting abuses or deviations from company policy.
Manage Conflicting Requests
Inevitably, you will have employees who want to use PTO on the same dates, leaving you with no coverage. How you handle that should be specified in your company’s PTO policy. It is common to approve the first request received. For popular time off dates such as the Christmas holidays, it makes sense to ask employees to submit their proposed vacation days by a certain deadline, or submit them early so that you can review them and make sure you have enough coverage.
Speak to an HR Solutions Firm for More Information
Developing a fair and balanced PTO policy takes some HR expertise. Once your company has a viable PTO policy, you then must implement it. Managing your employees’ PTO and keeping track of it can be challenging. Get professional help from an HR solutions firm. Their experts can provide guidance to your company leadership. They can also manage the entire tracking process for your company. Contact an HR solutions firm for more information about their HR outsourcing services.