• November 2019

Modern trends in PTO – does your plan measure up?


We are in unprecedented times in the workforce. Historically low unemployment, the high number of job openings, baby boomers retiring at record levels and five generations in the workplace. There were 7.2 million job openings at the end of July 2019, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This was the 17th straight month that the number of job openings was higher than the number of job seekers, which is 6 million.*

As your organization's demographics continue to change, the traditional and non-traditional benefit needs of your associates are also changing. The best way to determine what your associates want is to ask them. We recommend conducting an employee survey or focus groups to gather information directly from associates to assess which workplace policies and benefits will keep them engaged with your organization. You can use this information to determine how to spend your benefits budget and which programs to implement.

According to an article published by World at Work in July 2019 employees want more from their benefits packages, including more flexible paid parental leave, student loan repayment and more mental health support. In fact, 81 percent of employees in the U.S. state that pensions and benefits affect their loyalty to their employer. In this competitive talent market, it's vital that organizations start meeting the needs of employees.**

Organizations are continuing to be creative in their thinking about how to engage their associates. The one size fits all approach to policies, procedures and practices is not effective. Organizations must take a more tailored approach to meet the varying needs of today's multigenerational, diverse workforce. For example, organizations need to take into account that one associate may be saving their paid time off to care for a newborn while another associate is saving their time off to care for an aging parent.

In order to understand local and Midwest benefits trends, SilverStone Group conducted our third annual Hot Topics in HR and Benefits Survey in May of 2019. The survey included a wide range of topics including: paid time off, parental leave, education assistance, wellness, retirement, dress code, recruiting, compensation, benefits and HR staffing.

The 102 organizations who participated in the survey represent a variety of industries including: construction, education, financial services, healthcare, insurance, manufacturing and non-profit. The organizations ranged in size from 4 to 6,000 employees and revenues ranged from less than $5 million to over $3 billion. The majority of the participants are headquartered in Omaha, Lincoln or Sioux Falls. Results were calculated by number of fulltime employees, annual company revenue and industry breakouts. Overall results were also calculated.

Key finding from the overall results indicate that of participating organizations:

• 52% offer a PTO plan and only 43% of organizations offer separate vacation and sick leave plans
• 23% offer paid time off to volunteer in the community
• 17% offer parental leave beyond FMLA
• 56% offer tuition assistance/reimbursement for full-time employees
• 96% offer a company sponsored retirement plan
• 23% contribute 50% of an employee's contribution up to 6%
• 19% contribute 100% of an employee's contribution up to 3%
• 67% allow employees to dress casually on a daily basis
• 61% think employee referrals are the best source of applicants
• 28% use texting to communicate with applicants
• 78% use a market-based approach for making pay decisions

Our survey validated that organizations are continuing to enhance the programs offered to associates. Survey participants indicated that in 2020 they are considering implementing the following programs:

• Student Loan Repayment (19.64%)
• Tuition Assistance/Reimbursement (17.86%)
• Certification Bonuses (17.86%)
• Health/Wellness Program (16.07%)
• Financial Wellness (14.29%)
• Parental Leave (12.50%)
• Pet Insurance (7.14%)

It is not surprising that 61% of the organizations indicated cost as the biggest challenge to implementing new programs. In addition to cost, a lack of staff to administer programs (14%) and lack of commitment from management (8%) were the next biggest challenges.

A full copy of the 2019 Hot Topics in HR and Benefits survey is available through SilverStone Group. Visit silversstonegroup.com to learn more.


Dan LaRock is principal and shareholder of SilverStone Group Consultants and Todd Flickema is the agency's director of professional risk services.

Thank you to our Chamber News Premium Sponsors

  • img
  • img
  • img
  • img