IPA Data Dive: Recharging the Batteries

IPA Data Dive: Recharging the Batteries

Even as widespread remote work has helped reduce or eliminate mind-numbing commutes and given many employees more time at home with family (for better or worse), recent research and anecdotal evidence continue to paint a picture of growing employee discontent and burnout. Whether it’s the disorientation of meshing their home and work lives, an extended tax season that never seemed to end or the notion that a “home office” means never clocking out, many employees were likely feeling more stressed than ever over the past year – despite the presumed advantages of remote work.

The hope for firms, of course, is that their staff will take advantage of time-off benefits – from flexible schedules to paid time off to sabbaticals – to relax and recharge before that stress manifests itself as substandard performance or full-on burnout. While it’s hard to tell how many employees are actually taking advantage of the benefits being offered, data from INSIDE Public Accounting’s  2021 Human Resources report shows that firms are at least making the effort to give their people a release valve.

Out of the 226 firms that participated in this year’s HR survey, 93% offer flexible schedules as a benefit, while 59% have summer hours. While not as widely offered, meanwhile (and service-time requirements certainly vary), 13% of firms do offer both partners and staff the opportunity to take a sabbatical as well.

Paid time off varies widely across both position level and service time, of course, but more and more firms seem to be leaning into the notion of unlimited PTO, with anywhere from 11% to 15% of all firms extending this benefit to staff from 0-2 years of experience right up to 9+ years. In some pockets, however, unlimited PTO is a much more popular benefit, with 21% of firms with net revenue over $75 million offering it to 0-2 year exempt staff and 28% of firms between $30 million and $50 million offering it to their 9+ year exempt staff.

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While this data suggests that firms are at least making a valiant attempt to give their people a break from the grind, it’s important to remember that time-off policies are only as effective as they play out in practice. Do managers look unfavorably upon employees who take their full allotment of PTO? Is there enough coverage throughout the firm that employees feel they’re able to take some time away? Does a summer Friday off just allow the work to build up enough that the following Monday promises to be miserable?

These are the types of questions firms need to be asking themselves as they adjust their benefit programs and look to combat potential employee burnout. After all, a benefit that looks good on paper but can’t realistically be used is really no benefit at all.

The 2021 INSIDE Public Accounting practice management reports are packed with the information today’s firm leaders need to understand where they stand in the profession – and where they should be going. Give yourself a leg up on the competition – order your reports today!