How Expanding Your Time-off Policy Improves the Employee Experience

  • Author: Meghan Stewart

A robust time-off policy improves the employee experience by giving employees the space to achieve a positive work-life balance. In addition to giving employees time to refresh and pursue their interests, time off also helps employees work more successfully when they return. In an American Psychological Association (APA) survey, 58 percent of employees said they were more productive after time off from work. Fifty-five percent said their work quality was better.

4 Ways to Improve the Employee Experience With Time Off

Your time-off policy can also be a powerful way to support employee mental health, diversity, and connection to a deeper purpose. Here are some ways you can use time off to improve the employee experience and support a positive work-life balance:

Offer Volunteer Time-off (VTO)

VTO programs have increasingly become a popular way for companies to support their employees and the local community. A survey of large companies by Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose found that 89 percent offer employees paid time-off or flexible scheduling for volunteering. 

If you don’t yet have a VTO program, here are some compelling reasons to give it a try:

  • It’s the right thing to do: Companies and their employees have talents and time to share with many deserving organizations.
  • It boosts employee mental health: A UnitedHealthcare study found that among people who reported doing volunteer work in the last year, 93 percent reported having an improved mood and 79 percent said they experienced lower stress levels.
  • It supports your employer brand: Supporting employee charitable interests helps build your reputation as a socially conscious organization.

Here at Ingenuity, giving back is part of our DNA. In addition to the charitable work we do as a company, we offer employees 16 hours of annual VTO to help them help others. This commitment also extends to the work we do with our clients. We recently worked with Splunk to create an awareness campaign for their VTO program. Through fresh new Zoom screens and announcements via email, intranet, and Slack channels, we highlighted their expanded program and increased volunteer hours among Splunk’s workforce.

Consider a Vacation Time Donation Program 

Another way to support charitable activities is to offer employees options for donating unused vacation time to a charitable cause. According to an International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) survey, one-third of companies said they offered such a benefit. Some companies also allow employees to donate vacation time to coworkers who need extra time for personal emergencies. While a time-off donation program requires careful recordkeeping, it can help you improve the employee experience through greater employee empowerment.

Use Analytics to Understand Employee Time-Off Needs

Tracking employee time-off isn’t just for reviewing employee usage vs. accruals. Your time-off data can potentially tell you more. For example, time-off reporting can tell you which employees aren’t taking enough time-off and could be at risk for burnout. By having conversations with those employees and encouraging them to take time off, you can help them manage stress and improve their work-life balance. 

Time-off data can also reveal how often employees request other kinds of leave, such as sick days and bereavement leave. Any increases in usage or request volume may signal a need to adjust your policies. In some cases, you may decide to offer expanded time off.

Support Diversity and Inclusion With Floater Holidays 

Floater holidays support diversity by giving employees time-off for other observances beyond federal and company holidays. By offering floaters, you help employees celebrate religious holidays and other days of personal relevance without taking unpaid time off. Starting in 2021, we added two floater holidays to Ingenuity’s schedule, to accommodate other holidays employees celebrated in previous years.

Since there are many options for including floaters in your time-off policy, it’s important to give employees clarity. Make sure they know how to request floaters, when to use them, and any applicable expiration or “use it or lose it” conditions. You should also keep your company holiday calendar up-to-date, for example, by adding Juneteenth, which is now a federal holiday.

Your time-off policy gives employees many paths to work-life balance, and it can help them spend time on the things that matter most to them. By incorporating some of these tips, you can improve the employee experience and do more with your time-off policy.

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