Good people want and expect better than average compensation.  To think that we will hire and keep the best and brightest when offering “market rate” salaries and benefits is, at best, status-quo thinking, and at worst, a formula for failure.  But how can a business owner build a winning team without spending excessively and playing Russian Roulette when negotiating pay rates and increases with key people and prospects?

One big perk that is underappreciated and underused is Paid Time Off (PTO).  When set up properly and strategically, a PTO package can sweeten a deal, increase morale, and even improve productivity.

Here are some proven strategies to help attract and keep great people and have a positive impact on the organization:

  1. Instead of offering the usual 5 vacation days after one year of employment, 10 days after two years, etc., consider that to distinguish your company from competitors, offering more at the outset is a cheap and effective strategy!  A few dollars invested on the front end to acquire and/or keep a productive employee with a great attitude is priceless.  Especially when he or she is coming from a job where vacation time has been accumulated and now stands to be lost or compromised in order to make a job change.  At the very least, grant the same amount of time (or more) once the 90-day trial period has been reached satisfactorily.
  2. Forget trying to split hairs over personal days, sick days and the like. It’s not worth jeopardizing an otherwise great employee unless the situation is completely untenable (examples: employee can’t drive or needs excessive time off due to spouse’s work requirements etc.).

A great way to approach this is a PTO package that offers a specific number of paid days off (all-inclusive of the things mentioned above) to be used at the employee’s discretion with clear guidelines.  The PTO package is simpler to track and employees generally love the flexibility.  However, management must be clear about the parameters and expectations!

  1. Think about how much you’ve wanted people to voluntarily go the extra mile without complaint or resistance when you need them to.  Is there any reason for them to want to, besides their paycheck?  Good people love to know their efforts do not go unnoticed.   Try adding fractions or whole days of PTO to sweeten the pot when an employee achieves specific metrics or produces superlative results.

Another way to make this strategy relevant, without having it become an entitlement, is to add a policy to your employee handbook.  For example: “Time worked at an open house or parade of homes will be an expectation for all salaried employees.  For every 8 hours of such time documented,                 hours of PTO will be rewarded.”  Problem solved!

  1. Finally, make unused PTO available to be carried over to subsequent years (with limitations). Consider how most people have a dream vacation and never get the chance to take it.  With children, school schedules, personal demands and budget constraints, many lose hope that there will ever be enough time and/or money to realize their dreams.  With time carried over and accumulated, dreams could become reality for them.

These small benefits build loyalty and enthusiasm!  The real benefit for the organization is a team of committed people inspired to engage like active participants vs passive observers.  And in the end, isn’t that all we really want from our people?

The PTO package done well can entice, engage and inspire good people.  As a viable option, it can augment salary and bonus programs and set you apart from the competition!

Learn more about Legacy Business Leaders leadership and staff training resources here.