Tag Archives: workplace studies

Using Your PTO: It’s the Patriotic Thing To Do

Data Point TuesdayU.S Employees are taking less vacation time today than at any point in the last four decades. In fact, in 2013 employees with available Paid Time Off (PTO) took an average of 16 days of vacation, compared to an average of 20 days in 2000. This is data from a recent report by the U.S Travel Association, conducted by Oxford Economics, which analyzes the impact of forfeited time off. The report’s analysis is based on the Monthly Current Population Survey results reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and a June 2014 survey of 1,303 American workers conducted by GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications in conjunction with Oxford Economics. Why are Americans increasingly taking less vacation time, and what’s the impact? Let’s explore…
Annual Vacation DaysWhile missing a few paid vacation days in a year may seem insignificant, Oxford Economics’ report puts such choices into a different perspective. In 2013, Americans used a total of 77% of their PTO, and among employees with PTO an average of five days went unused. With 1.6 of those days being permanently lost, across the workforce, employees ultimately volunteered 169 million days of work. “Volunteered,” sounds even more pleasant that the alternative description, that these employees worked for free. 169 days of forfeited work equates to roughly $52.4 billion in lost benefits. Oxford Economics also points out that taking offered PTO can have significant economic impact. If U.S employees returned to average vacation patterns experienced from 1976-2000 (20.3 days of vacation) annual vacation days taken would increase by 27% and would equate to 768 million additional days of vacation. Using those 768 million days of vacation would result in $284 billion of economic impact (including $118 billion in direct travel spending).

While full-week vacations have declined over the last 35 years, the impact of such a decline has been offset by an increase in the amount of partial-week vacations taken through the mid 1990’s. However, since then, the amount of partial-vacations has steadied out while the amount of full-week vacations taken has continued to decline.
Decline of Full-Week Vacations GraphPTO offered to employees in the U.S. is typically between 11-25 days. Just under 60% of employees earn between 11-25 days of PTO per year, and nearly 25% earn between 11-15 days of PTO annually.

PTO Taken GraphOf employees who have PTO, at least 56% can bank or rollover unused PTO days for later use. But almost a quarter of employees (23.4%) report losing unused PTO days at the end of the year. Employees who can bank or rollover PTO are often faced with caps or expiration dates. For example, 29.7% report that they can only bank or rollover 5 days of PTO or less.

Typically, the higher the income earned, the greater the number of PTO days, but higher income earners also report leaving more PTO days unused. Oxford Economics’ report found that on average in 2013, U.S. employees lost more than 1/3 of their unused PTO and high-income earners lost more than ½ of unused PTO days. Based on total annual income and an assumed 260 workdays, the value of a forgone PTO day was estimated by income group, with this result:

Estimated Value of a Forgone PTO Day GraphOn average, U.S employees give $504 in paid time off to their employers via free work and, overall, give 1.1% of their salary back to their employer each year in the form of free work.

While all this data provides some serious food for thought, and a valuable perspective towards the implications of unused PTO, the most compelling piece of data Oxford Economics report may be this: employees who give up PTO days do not receive bonuses or raises at any faster rate than those employees who choose to utilize all of their PTO. Employees who used most of their earned PTO were just as likely to find themselves with a raise or promotion as those who left PTO unused and they reported being significantly less stressed.

Stressed at Work GraphThe bottom line is that taking earned PTO is important. Not only can doing so reduce stress and help employees create better work/life integration, but taking earned PTO has broader economic implications and holds significant influence on the perception of the U.S workforce’s culture. Check in at your organization, and make sure the culture there is one that encourages employees to take PTO, and, moreover, expects it of them!

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A New Voice Demanding Flexibility: Dads!

Data Point TuesdayThe Working Mother Research Institute (WMRI), in partnership with Ernst & Young, recently released a report aimed at better understanding “how men are navigating the flexible work and home terrain.” Data from How Men Flex, The Working Mother Report is the result of survey responses from 2,000 men and women (evenly split) with questions aimed at understanding the impact of flexible work arrangements on their lives. While the impression may be that flexible work arrangements are greater utilized by female employees, WMRI’s data indicates that flexibility in the work environment is both used and desired by men and women equally. 77% of men report having flexible schedules and 79% state that they feel comfortable using such flexibility. Additionally, 62% of men state that their employers can and do support flexible scheduling. What’s also clear from WMRI’s data is that working mothers aren’t the only people struggling to with balancing work and family. 26% of men report that their employers could encourage flexible scheduling but don’t. WMRI notes that in recent studies both working mothers and working fathers, have almost equally agreed that they feel stressed about meeting their responsibilities in both their work and home environments. Studies have also shown that men are increasingly involved in the balancing act of family and work, something that’s often seen exclusively as a working mother’s issue. WMRI highlights a 2011 report, which showed that fathers spent 7 hours a week on childcare and 10 hours a week on housework, a significant increase from a 1965 study that reported fathers spent 2.5 hours a week on childcare and 4 hours on house work. Breadwinning Mom Graph

The above graph highlights changing perceptions when it comes to work and family; 88% of men report that mothers and fathers should share equally in caring for their children and 83% report that household work should be shared equally as well. Organizations should make sure there is an inclusive focus on flexible scheduling not only because family management is a shared responsibility but also because flexible scheduling benefits employers in several ways. The data show that men with access to flexible scheduling are more likely to say they are happy, productive, have high have morale, good relationships with co-workers, and are overall more satisfied with their job than men without access to flexible scheduling. Satisfaction Graph

Employers who do not provide flexible scheduling lose a valuable tool for attracting talent and could be increasing their risk of losing valuable talent they do have. Right out the door, 54% of working fathers and 47% of men without kids state that they would reject a job with frequent travel due to obligations at home.

What flex options should employers provide? While that depends largely on each organization’s professional needs (and their employees’ personal needs) men surveyed for WMRI’s report state that two days of telecommuting each week work best for them. These respondents report higher levels of satisfaction on almost all fronts compared to those who never work from home. Men who commute two days a week also report higher levels of satisfaction than those who work from home three to five days a week. Working From Home Graph

WMRI’s report also finds that 6 in 10 working dads would work part-time if they could still enjoy a satisfying career; however, 36% of working dads say part-time work is looked down upon at their organizations. Working fathers, like working mothers, also report difficulty in managing boundaries around work, with 46% reporting that their job bleeds into their personal time, compared to 32% of men without children.

The data here suggest that flexible scheduling options are just as valuable for men as they are for women, and, moreover, are an area that many organizations are unintentionally neglecting to make as accessible to male employees. Organizations should make sure to engage all employees in conversations around flex time, and to publicize that flex programs are available and their use is encouraged by all.Downsides Graph

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5 Talent Acquisition Trends to Watch

Data Point Tuesday
Ultimate Software
(#20 on this year’s FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work for list) just released a whitepaper that looks at 5 top talent acquisition trends in today’s market. As much data as we might see on talent acquisition, it’s a perpetually interesting topic to look at because (and Ultimate Software puts it well), “A company can have the right technology, the right infrastructure, the right products and services – yet still fall short of expectations without the right people.” People are the heart and soul of an organization, and attracting, hiring, and engaging the right people for an organization is vital to its growth and success. Ultimate Software highlights that over the past five years we’ve seen a huge change in the landscape of talent acquisition. We’re still in the midst of an ongoing economic recovery and Millennials, who are the largest generation in history, (~95 million compared with ~78 million Baby Boomers) are currently filling one out of every three positions in the United States. By 2025, they are projected to make up 75% of employees in the global marketplace. Add this to the incredibly competitive, fast-paced, technologically advanced, and increasingly inter-connected world that we live in and hiring the ‘right’ person becomes “both more difficult and more important than ever.”

Out of the 5 Top Talent Acquisition trends that Ultimate Software details, “User Experience” is number one. Over the last five years, companies have increasingly focused on the “candidate experience” in talent acquisition (see the ground breaking research done by Gerry Crispin’s and Elaine Orler’s Talent Board), putting themselves in the job seekers’ shoes with a focus on treating them like a unique individual or “the customer.” When Ultimate Software discusses “User Experience” as a talent acquisition trend though, they’re talking about a more recent trend than focusing on candidate experience, one that emphasizes user experience in terms of designing or selecting a recruiting solution. In the same way that people expect exceptional user-experience from consumer-level technology like their smartphones, employees now expect the same level of ease-of use with recruiting solutions technology in the workplace. Candidates themselves also expect an easy (and mobile) user-experience when searching for and applying to positions. Not being able to do this on a smartphone, for example, has become a huge barrier to entry.

Trends two and three are “Personalization” and “Social Connections and Collaborations.” Personalization, in the context of talent acquisition, is described as “the fusion of a positive user experience with an emphasis on the individual.” Essentially, organizations that treat candidates as individuals and potentially valuable employees from the beginning of the recruiting process have a number of advantages. Using a more personal, behaviorally based interviewing approach can lead to better information for the recruiter (they may for example find a candidates fits well for another role) and a more engaged candidate. It may also help candidates leave with a better impression of the organization overall, and prevent what Ultimate Software calls the “candidate black hole” (referring to the statistic that nearly 50% of job applicants never get any response after submitting an application). “Social Connections and Collaborations” refers to talent acquisition solutions integrating with social media platforms (think LinkedIn and Facebook) to leverage more effectively the vast amount of useful information on candidates that these platforms provide. Note that 89% of all job seekers report using social media sites and almost 50% report using these sites every day.

“Global Recruiting” and “Recruiting Millennials” make up the last two trends in the whitepaper. Successful organizations have embraced the advantages of creating a more global workforce, leveling technology like video interviewing and telecommuting to find the right candidate for the job, no matter where in the world the might be. Ultimate Software cites data from a recent KPMG survey, which reports that 71% of HR executives feel that collaborating across international borders is more prevalent today than just five years ago, and more than 50% are considering or have added new international offices. The “Global Workforce” is here to stay. Last but not least, successful talent acquisition programs have been specifically addressing Millennial candidates applying for positions – a smart move when we consider that they’re projected to make up 75% of the workforce by 2025! This attention on Millennials does not necessarily comprise a total remaking of the talent acquisition process, but a purposeful implementation of changes to the recruiting process – like keeping in mind that 83% of Millennials own a smart phone, or that Millennials place a high value on an organization’s mission, purpose, and culture.

Together these 5 trends point to new realities for organizations as they plan to add new talent to their ranks. It’s not just demographics that are changing. Social technologies are changing our ability to engage and retain the right people – where and when we need them. And that spells big opportunity for organizations who believe that people are at the heart of the cultures and their successes.

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Purpose: A Hedge Against Organizational Challenges

Data Point Tuesday

The Deloitte “2014 Core Beliefs and Culture Study” proves it again, that those workplaces who focus on creating a meaningful environment for all their stakeholders (customers, employees, and communities) foster a culture of purpose that builds confidence, drives investment, and “can lead to competitive advantage in a time of economic vitality.” The survey was conducted in February of this year and is designed to explore the concept of workplace culture, defined by a set of timeless core values and beliefs, as a business driver. This year’s survey looks specifically at whether a strong sense of purpose leads to higher levels of confidences among stakeholders and drives business growth. Methodology included the survey of a sample of 1,053 adults (300 executives and 753 employed adults) employed full time within an organization with at least 100 employees.

Evidence from the survey indicates that focusing on purpose rather than profits is what builds business confidence. What do organizations define as purpose though? When respondents were asked about activities that are part of the purpose of their organization, the top 5 cited answers were:

  • Providing business services and/or products that have meaningful impact on clients/customers (89%)
  • Providing business services and/or products that benefit society (84%)
  • Providing employees with education, experience, and/or mentorship benefits (77%)
  • Encouraging employees to volunteer (74%)
  • Generating financial returns for our stakeholders/shareholders (69%)

Deloitte “2014 Core Beliefs and Culture Study”

Deloitte also found that those respondents who agree they work for an organization with a strong sense of purpose were more likely to say their organization recorded positive growth (81% vs. 67%) and outgrew competitors (64% vs. 44%) in 2013. When looking to the future, respondents who say their organizations have a strong sense of purpose are also much more optimistic about the future prospects of their organizations: 91% of respondents who believe their organization has a strong sense of purpose feel that their company will maintain or strengthen its brand reputation and loyalty vs. 49% of respondents at organizations without a strong sense of purpose.

Organizations with a strong sense of purpose tie confidence to three main factors:

  • a commitment to delivering top quality goods/services
  • focus on long term sustainable growth
  • clear understanding of organization’s purpose and commitment to core values.

Companies reporting they do not have a strong purpose however, find confidence tied almost exclusively to financial factors:

2014 Core Beliefs and Culture Study

When looking at priorities of leadership at these companies, we see a similar trend. For organizations that report having a strong sense of purpose, making a positive impact on clients is ranked most often as the top priority for leadership vs. leadership at companies without a strong sense of purpose, who most often report short-term financial goals as their top priority (the study notes that there were no major differences in top leadership priorities as stated by employees and executives).

Purpose also appears to drive investment. Respondents at organizations with a strong sense of purpose are consistently more likely to say their organization will increase investments year over year than companies without a strong sense of purpose, especially in areas such as:

  • New technologies: 38% vs. 19%
  • Expanding into new markets: 31% vs. 21%
  • Developing new products/services: 27% vs. 17%
  • Employee development and training: 25% vs. 11%

Companies with a strong sense of purpose also perceive higher levels of confidence among key stakeholders – 89% of respondents say their clients trust that they deliver the highest quality products and services (vs. 66% at organizations without strong purpose).

If this data isn’t enough to suggest that there really is something to creating a strong sense of purpose and values at an organization, Deloitte’s data also detail that more fully engaged employees, greater diversity, and encouragement of innovation are also more present at organizations reporting a strong sense of purpose. Despite the benefits though, 20% of respondent’s state that leadership fails to set an example for the rest of the organization by truly living the organization’s purpose and 18% say it is not part of performance evaluations.

Once again, the data are persuasive. Organizations with strong missions that are focused on more than profits are clear winners creating successful, sustainable businesses. Put another way, creating a strong purpose-focused culture may be the best hedge against the difficult economic, political and talent challenges facing most organizations today.

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Leadership Challenges, Critical Skills and the Importance of Gender Diversity

Data Point Tuesday
Development Dimensions International (DDI)
and The Conference Board have recently released a report, “Global Leadership Forecast 2014|2015.” This report, the seventh of its kind published by DDI, includes survey responses from 13,124 leaders, 1,528 global human resource executives, and 2,031 participating organizations. The volume of respondents allowed DDI to look at findings from a variety of perspectives – multinational vs. local corporations, spans four leadership levels and leaders/HR professionals of different genders, ages, 48 countries, and 32 major industry categories. The report is comprehensive and contains more than one blog post’s worth of data and insight, so I’ll just pull a few of the highlights here… But if you find the data interesting make sure to take a look at the full report for more information!

Let’s start by looking at top challenges of leadership cited in the report. According to the research, the top four CEO challenges are Human Capital, Customer Relations, Innovation, and Operational Excellence. When responding CEOs were asked to identify strategies to address the human capital challenge, four of the top strategies cited included a focus on leadership:

  • improve leadership development programs,
  • enhance the effectiveness of senior management teams,
  • improve the effectiveness of frontline supervisors and managers, and
  • improve succession planning

Though the top three cited strategies for combating the human capital challenge were to: provide employee training and development, raise employee engagement, and improve performance management processes and accountability, the fact that a focus on leadership was present among the top 10 strategies suggests that leaders recognize that organizations cannot develop and retain highly engaged, productive employees without effective leadership and leadership development programs.

Top CEO ChallengesCEOs surveyed also identified the leadership attributes and behaviors they perceived as most critical to success as a leader:

  • retain and develop talent
  • manage complexity
  • lead change
  • lead with integrity, and
  • have an entrepreneurial mind-set.

Unfortunately, no more than 50% of leaders assessed their own readiness to address such tasks as “very prepared.” And HR leaders’ perceptions were even more grim, with only 9% indicating their leaders were “very ready” to address the human capital challenge.

When HR professionals were asked to rank two critical leader skills for leaders’ success in the next three years, and how much their organization’s current development programs focuses on them, the level of focus of most skills corresponded to how critical the skills were perceived to be for the future. However, there were some interesting exceptions:

Critical SkillsAs you can see in the above graphic, two skills that were listed by HR as most critical (fostering employee creativity and innovation/leading across countries and cultures) are not actually being focused on, while building consensus and commitment/communicating and interacting with others are two skills not listed by HR as highly critical to the future yet are being heavily focused on. DDI informs us that because these are foundational skills it’s easy for HR to either overemphasize or undervalue them, which supports the data we see in the graphic.

While DDI and The Conference Board’s report is chock full of fascinating data like those mentioned above, it has been getting wide attention for a particular section of the report: the section on gender diversity. The report indicates that organizations with better financial performance have more women in leadership roles. Organizations in the top 20% for financial performance report 37% of all leaders are women vs. organizations in the bottom 20%, which report that only 19% of all leaders are women.

Women in LeadershipWhile this clearly points to the positive benefits of gender diversity, at the same time, it highlights how disturbingly imbalanced the gender demographics still are when it comes to leadership. DDI’s survey explains this imbalance in several ways. There was no significant difference between the men and women in the study when it came to leadership skills or ability to handle management and business challenges, however, a noted difference between sexes were their levels of confidence. Women were less likely than men to rate themselves as effective leaders, as having completed international assignments, lead across geographies or countries, or lead geographically dispersed teams. The study cites these global or more visible leadership experiences as key missed opportunities, because leaders who had access to these experiences were far more likely to be promoted and to advance more quickly in their organizations.

Gender DifferencesThe bottom line is that this data supports what we know about diversity in its entirety: fostering and encouraging diversity in the workplace is always something to strive for as it inherently leads to more diversity of ideas, problem solving, productivity and financial success!

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Filed under China Gorman, Critical Skills, Data Point Tuesday, Development Dimensions International, Gender Diversity, HR, HR Data, Human Resources, Leadership, Leadership Challenges, The Conference Board, Workplace Studies