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The Kindness Benefit: Part I
The Kindness Benefit: Part I

There was a time when a salary, some insurance, and a few days of paid time off (PTO) were a selling point for a job. It wasn’t even that long ago that ten days of PTO was the standard for the whole year. That might be shocking to younger readers, especially if you found a great company right out the gate. Personal time was once a rare commodity. 

The truth is there are a lot of companies that still don’t understand the benefits of benefits. The culture of the American company and family has certainly changed over the years. Various economic, technical, political, and cultural shifts have happened over the decades to bring us to where we are now. And in terms of personal time, where we are is we want it. We don’t see it as a rare diamond but a human right.

In part one, we look at the tremendous benefit of time.

Benefit of Benefits: Time

According to PGI, 87% of employees work more than 40 hours per week, with nearly one-quarter of all respondents putting in more than 50 hours per week. I’ll also bet that a lot of people reading this say, 50 hours if lucky. For many, it’s only gotten longer with the current pandemic, finding people forgetting what time it is and not taking time to get up and leave their workspace, their own home. Why do American’s work so much?

There are a variety of reasons. One, some people feel it is their personal duty to work that much, or possibly related to the ego and esteem that comes from being the only one who can handle that task. Two, it could be a lack of time management resources or not delegating properly. Third, there is just that much work to do. Regarding items one and two, this could be someone’s personality due to underlying psychological reasons of which we will never be aware. It can also be due to a lack of training. Delegation and time management are not techniques taught in school. You either are good at it, or you are not. However, these are things that could be guided and mentored. 

Time off. Time to rest your brain. Time to relax your body. Time to reconnect with yourself, family, and friends. It’s a simple concept. Time not working helps repair our brain, which allows us physically to feel healthier and perform better. Yet, for years, some companies act as if they think their employees are not a valuable partner, instead of treating them like a child that owes them something and needs to be monitored. People often give and give and give to their company to not get much in return. It is no wonder that the average tenure at the same company has shrunk over the years. In January of 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median tenure was 4.1 years. For men, the average tenure is 4.3 years, and for women, 3.9. 

In more recent, and much better trends, smart companies have realized that unlimited PTO does not actually lead to…unlimited time off. The psychology of the American worker doesn’t allow them to be gone for too long. What it does do is free the mind of the employee. Knowing that you can take the time, if needed, is of great relief to many people. Taking daily breaks also helps reset the overworked minds. This is not a forced lunch at inopportune times, but small breaks to stretch and free their mind for a few minutes before getting back to the grind. 

Generous PTO and having an understanding mindset are win-wins for the employer and employee. No one can keep up a schedule that includes long hours and never-ending days. The brain and body are not meant to function that way. This is not an opinion, it is fact. Taking breaks has been shown to be important in recovering from stress, which can, in turn, improve your performance. Recovering from work stress can restore energy and mental resources and decrease the development of fatigue, sleep disorders and cardiovascular disease.

In part two, we will look at other types of benefits that are no longer nice to have but have become make or break factors in deciding on future employment, as well as staying in the current job.