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Perks of Work: Putting Unclaimed Paid Leave to Work

Sept. 27, 2019, 10:30 AM

Time for Perks of Work, our weekly recap of intriguing data, surveys, and trends about the 21st century workplace.

Working on climbing the corporate ladder? Do you religiously Slack with work pals about dream benefits packages? Check this space every Friday to keep up with the latest water-cooler talk.

Making Money Moves

That whole “you can’t take it with you” thing doesn’t just apply to the hoard of Krugerrands one might have stashed in a secret nuclear-blast-proof panic room.

PTO Exchange founder Rob Whelan is working to repurpose stockpiles of unclaimed paid leave by giving employees options for cashing out languishing earnings.

A recent survey of over 1,000 employees provides a glimpse into what workers would spend those captive funds on if given the choice.

Over half of the respondents (56%) endorsed further feathering their respective nest eggs. One-third (33%) said having extra cash on hand for unexpected expenses would be great. Others endorsed redirecting funds to priorities ranging from reducing student loan debt (29%) to upping charitable donations (23%).

Oddly enough, less than a quarter of respondents (22%) said they’d apply any windfall from hitting the liquidation jackpot to one thing that actually aligns with the original intent of the employer-sponsored benefit: travel.

Horrible Bosses

Subsidized Bird scooter rentals. Vegan breakfast wraps. Direct deposits of Bitcoin.

The ever-escalating array of fringe benefits being waved in front of employees can’t take the place of one very simple thing: a decent place to work.

Behavioral assessment outfit the Predictive Index found that plenty of workers have problems with the “psychological safety” of their workplace. That term is defined by a Harvard professor as “a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes.”

Over 1,000 respondents weighed in on how their company falls short in terms of providing a supportive environment, focusing on the “subtle ways” managers undermine them on a daily basis.

Management’s most jarring practices include: consistently frustrating staff (80%); being generally unapproachable (43%); brushing aside differing views (25%); disregarding employees’ unique skills (20%).

“While these aren’t outright displays of mistreatment, they still negatively impact the employee experience,” PI analysts warned.

More for Mental Health

Mental health remains top of mind for benefits administrators, too.

Respondents told the National Business Group on Health about their plans for the 2020 open enrollment season, mapping out plans to update their health-care offerings.

One of the trends mixed in with the usual suspects is that companies want to do more in the mental health space.

Nearly half of the respondents vowed to explore ways to “reduce the stigma that exists around mental health conditions and treatment.” Changes under consideration range from expanding access to online resources (69%) to hiring onsite mental health counselors (33%).

So, help is on the way. (We’re thinking positive here.)

Hungry for more? Send any tips, polls, or story pitches to wrojas@bloomberglaw.com.

To contact the reporter on this story: Warren Rojas in Washington at wrojas@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at fjohnson@bloomberglaw.com; Brent Bierman at bbierman@bloomberglaw.com

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