Is a Lack of PTO the Real Cause of Employee Burnout?
The U.S. is often criticized for our lack of federal mandates regarding paid time off (PTO) for employees. In addition to calling the situation unfair, unethical, etc., critics often claim that the lack of PTO is one of the main drivers of employee burnout. But is that really true? Or is there something else that creates bigger problems for American workers?
Goldman Sachs turned heads in early 2021 when they released the results of an internal survey. That survey indicated significant concerns of burnout among company employees. In response to it, Goldman Sachs has rolled out a new round of employee benefits slated to begin from the start of 2022. The benefits are being promoted as a way to reduce the risk of burnout.
Boosting Physical and Mental Health
Yahoo! Finance reports that Goldman Sachs new benefits are designed to boost employee physical and mental health. In an interview with Bloomberg, the company’s global head of human capital management, Bentley de Beyer, used terms like “energy optimization” and “mental health programs” to describe the focal points of the new benefits. Those benefits include:
- more paid leave to deal with an immediate death in the family
- new paid leave for parents who suffer a miscarriage
- unpaid sabbatical time for employees with a certain length of service
- increased employer contributions to employee retirement programs
- elimination of the one-year waiting period for employer retirement contributions.
All the proposed new benefits are good for employees. They are on par with what other companies are doing to attract and retain top talent, at least according to Dallas-based BenefitMall. The fact that Goldman Sachs is seeking to improve its benefits package is evidence they intend to compete in 2022 and beyond. But how do the proposed benefits address employee burnout?
Working Too Many Hours
According to the Yahoo! Finance report, one of the responses to the Goldman Sachs survey noted significant unhappiness with having to work 110-120 hours per week. Yes, you read that correctly. It turns out you do not need a master’s degree in business management to figure out why Goldman Sachs employees feel burned out.
Their main issue does not appear to be a lack of benefits. It appears to be working too many hours. For the record, that same employee who brought up the problem referred to working so many hours as “inhumane” and “abuse.”
Demanding Too Much from Employees
Perhaps America’s burnout problem has nothing to do with a lack of PTO. It is certainly not a lack of employee benefits. The most likely culprit is that employers are working their people for too many hours in the week. They are demanding too much work from them in too short a time. Giving them additional PTO is not going to change that.
You could make the case that mandated PTO will only make the problem worse. How so? By forcing employees to do the same amount of work in less time. If the U.S. followed Algeria’s model of mandating thirty annual vacation days, employees would have one less month to do 12 months’ worth of work. How will that be accomplished without adding more hours to the average work week?
America has been known for its hard work and independent attitude since our founding. We are people who are willing to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and get to work. Unfortunately, there are those employers who take advantage of the collective American mindset. Increasing PTO will not change anything. That is because a lack of PTO isn’t really what causes employee burnout.