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Get Lost! Using Self-Service Technology to Strengthen PTO Processes

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Despite the seductive lure of paid time off, studies show that 55 percent of Americans did not use their earned vacation days in 2015. In addition, 80 percent of workers say that they likely would take more time off if they had their manager’s full support. While bosses do play a part in encouraging employees to take time off, the role of technology is no less significant. The right employee self-service (ESS) tool can streamline and simplify your PTO processes, which ultimately yields greater productivity.

The Importance of Taking PTO

There are multiple benefits to taking paid time off, but employees still need some convincing. They may think, “No one else can do my work.” Or, “I’ll be swamped with work after returning from vacation.” However, studies show that:

    • Employees who use all of their vacation days stand a 6.5 percent greater chance of getting a promotion or raise than those who left 11 to 15 days unused.
    • Well-planned vacations lead to a more positive, engaged brains and more happiness and energy at work, resulting in higher productivity.

Effects of Self-Service on Employee Engagement

The above-stated reasons employees don’t take PTO are based on typical scenarios. What’s not so immediately obvious is the processes of requesting and issuing PTO, and their impact on employee engagement.

Before the advent of newer HR technology, employees generally had to check with their manager or HR department for their available time off. Managers had to dig deep to see PTO histories. Employees with negative PTO balances were taking and getting paid for time off they hadn’t earned. The system was in dire need of improvement.

Now, by leveraging self-service technology, organizations can increase autonomy, employee responsibility and employees’ input into time-off decision-making, all of which drive employee engagement.

Impact of ESS on PTO Processes

Searching for insurance information and requesting PTO are, respectively, the top time-saving uses of ESS, according to a 2015 survey by Software Advice. A good ESS system saves time by providing employees with answers to time-off questions and allowing managers to respond efficiently to PTO requests. The ESS portal is essentially a “storefront” or “one-stop shop” that delivers accurate results and eliminates frustration.

Employees can:

    • see their assigned PTO accruals
    • view recorded time taken and available balance
    • easily submit and track the status of time-off requests
    • access company PTO policies

Employee self-service vastly reduces the burden of paperwork, while increasing the ability to control and approve PTO processes. In the end, the simplicity and pro-engagement nature of an ESS can make employees more confident in requesting time off.

Chad Raymond

by Chad Raymond

Author Bio: With over two decades of experience in employee engagement, benefits administration and government compliance, Chad has unparalleled knowledge in the fields of leadership and human resources. During his time at Paycom, Chad worked in several different capacities with Paycom including leading the product development team and HCM initiatives as well as the former director of Paycom’s service department. As the former vice president of HR, his vision and execution helped empower executives and their teams to reach their full potential.


4 Ways to Foster a Values-Driven Employee Culture

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Attracting high-caliber employees doesn’t happen by accident. Do the attributes you look for in an employee align with your company’s core values? Like every facet of a company’s communications and marketing plan, articulating a clear, core values-driven message to potential employees will help ensure the people who apply to your company already understand and believe in the culture and mission of your organization. And, those potential employees are naturally inclined to uphold your values, becoming near-instant brand ambassadors.

Here are four simple ways you can encourage a shared, values-aligned employee culture:

1. Share your employees’ experiences and stories to reinforce your company’s culture.

Capture the culture of your company through employee experiences and stories. Use images and videos from current employees (with their permission) that represent the brand well and share them on social media, in employee newsletters and at meetings. Consider a daily, internal “good news” email in which one small nugget of positive energy is shared with everyone.

2. Communicate the good, but don’t sweep the bad under the rug.

When employees feel their input and feelings are valued, they’ll shout your praises from the mountaintops. Plan for events and experiences to help your people celebrate company successes and milestones. Be generous and show your workforce you’re grateful for their hard work and contributions. If you’ve done this well, employees will band together in tougher times, loyally solving crises large or small. Cultivating this genuine form of engaged loyalty is invaluable, and simple to do. It all boils down to authenticity.

HR Break Room episode 26: Awaken Your Recruiting Force With a Strong Employer Brand

3. Give your current employees a brand identity toolkit.

Your brand has an identity already. The trick is understanding it, fine-tuning it as needed and articulating it consistently in every communication or interaction with employees and the public. When messaging is clear to employees, and their values align with your company’s, they will articulate it in brilliant, authentic, organic ways you never imagined. One way you can guide brand identity is through the use of values. Your leadership team can work to identify what’s most important. Then, make sure that’s documented somewhere your employees can reference easily.

4. Internal and external communications both must align with your company’s core values.

If the message you’re sending out is as authentic as the messaging you’re sharing internally, you will attract the right people and they will do right by your company.

These steps are straightforward, yet multi-faceted. To fully implement them, you’ll need a thoughtful, comprehensive plan; measurable, actionable steps; clear articulation of who among your team is responsible for each step; and tactics to measure your progress.

Attracting and retaining employees whose core values align with your company’s and who understand and share your mission will add exponential value to everything your company does. To learn more about the Employer Brand, be sure to check out Paycom’s on-demand webinar with Sarah Sears, Discover Who Owns Your Employer Brand.

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Posted in Blog, Employee Engagement, Employee Experience

Sarah Sears

by Sarah Sears

Author Bio: Sarah Mason Sears, founder and principal of the Oklahoma City-based S Design Inc., is an award-winning branding and design professional and national AIGA Fellow. Before opening the firm, Sears was a professor of typography for nearly a decade. A fine arts graduate of the University of Kansas, she continues educating the public about design through a series of seminars on such topics as increasing brand value and maintaining brand identity.

7 Action Items Your New-Hire Checklist May Be Missing

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This blog is part of our ongoing how-to series, designed to help you tackle big initiatives and challenges with confidence. To see other blogs in this series, click here.

It’s expensive and time consuming to hire someone, so you want to make sure your new hires stick around. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to welcome your new employees and give them a successful start to a long, productive career with your company. Consider making the guidelines in this blog part of your new employee checklist. If you don’t already have a new employee checklist, you can use the information below to start building one tailored to your company’s needs.

Paycom clients: If you have Document and Task Management, it’s easy to add any of the items below to your new-hire checklist and review completion rates. That way, you can ensure each new employee has a positive, consistent onboarding experience.

If you’re not a Paycom client, you can use this post to build your own checklist in a program like Microsoft Word or Excel. Keep in mind that if you take this approach, ensuring the checklist is used and completed for every new employee will be difficult.

1. Send a welcome letter to new employees.

A welcome letter to new employees helps them feel connected to your company from the beginning. An effective welcome letter should include:

  • confirmed start date, including where to show up and who to report to on the first day
  • information about parking, dress code, which entrance to use and other logistical information
  • outline of the first day’s activities, like completing HR documents, orientation, group training or an introduction to other employees
  • guidance on lunch: whether new hires can expect to spend it with their team, with their supervisor or on their own, and whether it will be on- or off-site


2. Send new-hire forms to new employees before their first day.

You may want to send HR documents, like Forms I-9 and W-2, to new hires to complete before they start. This is “preboarding,” and it can be an effective way to help new hires start work earlier on their first day, especially if you have the technology to send and receive these documents quickly and securely. Do note that time spent preboarding must be tracked and compensated.

If you’re considering adding this step to your new-hire checklist, it’s critical you have processes in place – or the right technology – to ensure the confidential and timely exchange of new hire documents. Additionally, new hires should have a way to track the time they spend preboarding accurately.

3. Block out time for a meet and greet.

Once new hires are on site, make them feel like valued members of the team. Have an employee greet new team members at the entrance on their first day. Help them connect with other new hires through introductions or even a group orientation, depending on the size of your organization.

4. Ask managers to assign tasks.

Make sure your managers offer their new hires’ practical, manageable assignments that can be completed on their first day. That allows them to start feeling like contributing team members sooner. Managers also should have a 30-, 60- and 90-day plan prepared for their new team members, so they know what’s expected of them and what success looks like in their new role.

When managers prepare these 30-, 60- and 90-day plans, they should have in mind some of the questions they will use when they check in with employees in the first several months of employment. Here are examples of questions your managers could ask at each stage:

Day one:

  • How did everything go today?
  • Do you have any questions?
  • Is there anything you have any worries or concerns about?
  • Any concerns for the future?

30 days in:

  • Is the job/team/company what you expected?
  • Do you have enough, too much or too little time to do your work?

60 days in:

  • What’s been going well? What are the highlights of your experiences so far? Why?
  • How do you see your job relating to the organization’s mission?

90 days in:

  • What’s the biggest difference between what you thought the job was like and what it’s really like?
  • Is there anything about your role, the team or company that is still unclear?

While these check-ins aren’t technically a part of the new-hire checklist, they are a crucial part of increasing employee retention and engagement, during the time new hires might still be on the fence about staying with your company.

Retention Statistic Aberdeen Group

5. Show new hires around their new space.

Give them a tour of the company and their new department, including where they can find:

  • break rooms
  • restrooms
  • supplies
  • the cafeteria, lunch rooms or nearby restaurants where they can eat lunch
  • other key locations like a lounge, gym or frequently used conference room

Before a new hire walks in the door, ensure his or her workspace is clean and has everything he or she will need to do his or her job well. Depending on the new hire’s position, this may include:

  • phone
  • office supplies
  • computer (including keyboard and mouse)
  • tools
  • safety gear (if applicable)

Check that any software required for the new employee’s job is already installed, and consider placing a directory or list of employees and extension numbers near their phone.

One way to make new employees feel especially welcome is to include a welcome gift with company-branded items, new supplies, snacks or even small gifts that help new hires get familiar with your company culture.

6. Help new employees connect to their team.

Send a new-employee introduction announcement to the rest of the company or department before a new hire begins. Share details about their experience, new role and personal information if it fits with your company culture.

But don’t limit the introduction to email. Follow up in person by introducing the new hire to their team. Take time to mention the new person’s strengths and what he or she will bring to the company. Give the new hire guidance on who he or she can ask for help regarding specific issues.

7. Help your new hire get acclimated to the company culture.

Because culture is the unwritten code that influences the way the team, department and company makes decisions large and small, giving new hires a quick cultural overview can help them feel more confident sooner.

Plan a group activity, or encourage your new hire’s manager to do so. A team lunch, coffee break or happy hour can provide valuable time for informal connection with new co-workers.

Consider assigning a “buddy” or having the new person shadow a more experienced employee. If your new hire is shadowing someone, give that employee advance notice. This will allow him or her time to prepare the day’s tasks based on what the new hire will need to learn.

Talk to new hires about how their work matters to the organization. This helps give them a sense of purpose as they start their new job. If possible, have others in the same position share stories of success or the business impact they’ve seen in their roles. Depending on your company, you or the new hire’s manager may do this. Either way, helping your new hire make this connection can help them feel like an important part of the team from the beginning.

Retention starts early

The cost of replacing employees - Bersin

Following these guidelines when you create your new-hire checklist – or adding them to your existing checklist – can help ensure new hires experience a first day that makes them excited to work for your company for the long haul.

For more guidance on how your onboarding activities can contribute to increased retention, download our executive summary, “Why Retaining Great Employees Starts With Onboarding.”

To learn more about Paycom’s Document and Task Management software, request a demo.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this blog is for general informational purposes only. Accordingly, Paycom and the writer of the above content do not warrant the completeness or accuracy of the above information. It does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services, or professional consulting. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional tax, accounting, legal or other professional services.

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Posted in Blog, Employee Engagement, How-To, Pre-Employment, Talent Acquisition

Lauren Rogers

by Lauren Rogers

Author Bio: As a communications specialist at Paycom, Lauren Rogers keeps employees abreast of company news and events, and provides insight to industry leaders regarding issues affecting human capital management. With experience in marketing and communications, Lauren has written blogs and other materials for a variety of businesses and nonprofits. Outside the office, she enjoys gardening, testing new recipes and sipping something caffeinated with her nose in a book.

How to Seriously Drive Employee Engagement

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If you won the lottery tomorrow, would you stop working? Chances are you’ve mulled it over before, even if you don’t buy a ticket often. When jackpot amounts grow to rival pro athletes’ salaries, the subject inevitably creeps into everyday conversation. At that point, it’s hard not to think and talk about what we would do as the recipient of a massive windfall.

So how do you think others responded? The answer may surprise you.

According to a study by Gallup, two-thirds of American workers would keep their nose to the grindstone, even after winning $10 million. A CareerBuilder survey reported that half of U.S. workers would continue working after winning the lottery, even “if they didn’t need a job financially.”

That’s right: If over half the working population’s biggest financial hurdles disappeared tomorrow, they would come to work the day after. But why?

What exactly is the employee experience, and how does it impact your bottom line? Find your answers in this podcast interview with Jacob Morgan.

In addition to the desire to maintain relationships with co-workers, 77% of respondents told CareerBuilder they would be bored without a job, and 76% said their work gives them a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Why Purpose Is a Must

As those survey results show, in order to lead a fulfilling life, people need more than money. They need a reason to get out of bed in the morning. They need to know their actions matter in the grand scheme of things. They need to feel part of something bigger than themselves.

Work can help meet those needs, and when it does, employees feel purposeful, connected and intrinsically motivated: the winning trifecta of long-term engagement. Passion for helping achieve the company’s mission will sustain them when you’re unable to reward them extrinsically with cash or perks. Purpose will keep them going for the long haul.

Without purpose, employee engagement strategy becomes little more than a series of rewards that prod employees forward, but never inspire them to greatness. Not only is a piecemeal strategy ineffectual, it’s unsustainable. The pressure to constantly invent and implement ideas to motivate them quickly can exhaust resources and even the most zealous HR pro.

Your employee engagement strategy should include both extrinsic, short-term rewards and high-level purpose.

Building a Purpose-Driven Strategy

If you currently give employees annual or short-term goals and financial incentives, you’re on the right track toward building a purpose-driven strategy. If not, consider incorporating those aspects into your performance management plan. Then share your business’s ultimate purpose – its reason for being – with your people.

“A reason for being is a non-typical mission statement that has four criteria,” writes Jacob Morgan, futurist and author of The Employee Experience Advantage. “It rallies employees, is not centered on financial gain, is unattainable and talks about the impact the organization has on communities and the world.”

According to Morgan, major companies like Starbucks and Airbnb already have established their “reasons for being” and are seeing positive results. If you’re interested in doing the same, listen to this week’s episode of Paycom’s HR Break Room podcast. In it, Morgan will share steps companies take to define their reason for being, and tips on how you can, too. Click here to subscribe.

Once you’ve defined your business’s ultimate purpose, share it with employees. Doing so will make it easy for them to understand how their contributions count toward reaching the larger, common goal. That combined with other efforts – like pulse surveys, financial incentives, goal setting and professional development opportunities – will increase your odds of building a winning strategy and engaging employees for years to come.


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Posted in Blog, Employee Engagement, Employee Experience, Featured

Amy Double

by Amy Double

Author Bio: Amy, a tenured professional in sales and marketing with over 10 years of experience, is dedicated to creating content focused on helping organizations achieve their business goals. As an experienced writer, Amy is committed to researching and blogging about topics that affect businesses across multiple industries, including manufacturing, hospitality and more. Outside of work, Amy enjoys reading, entertaining and spending time with family.


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