Stop Counting Vacation Days: Good or Bad Idea?
While Richard Branson recently announced that the Virgin offices would be moving to an unlimited vacation time “non-policy”, that may not be a realistic option for smaller organizations. Your business may have a tougher time with people taking time off whenever they want, as you have a limited number of employees to deliver the service your clients have come to expect. However, one of your most compelling benefits to your team and potential recruits is the flexibility you can provide to them through a paid time off (PTO) program.
Paid time off (PTO) provides employees with paid time away from work that can be used for vacation, personal time, personal illness, time off to care for dependents, etc. It is designed to take the place of separate sick leave, personal time and vacation policies.
Some of the benefits of a single paid time-off policy include enhanced employee morale with more flexibility and responsibility because employees are accountable and responsible for managing their own PTO hours. There is no need for you or the employee to determine why the time off is necessary. If an employee needs time off for a trip to Europe, a doctor’s appointment, or to attend a child’s field trip, all are covered by the same policy and are drawn from the same bank of days. Also, many firms report an increase in productivity with fewer unscheduled absences with a PTO policy versus a sick leave policy. When you have a separate sick day policy, healthy employees may feel that those sick days are owed to them and may create a situation to use them.
Some key factors to consider when developing your PTO policy include whether or not you will grant the whole bank of PTO hours on day one of the year or create a system where the hours are accrued (generally either by pay-cycle or monthly throughout the year). In general, the trend has been for employers to move toward accrual-based methods of giving employees access to paid time off, so as to better manage the usage of time off throughout the year, as well as avoid payout issues. In doing so, most employers will address the concern regarding making sure employees have time available early in the year by allowing for rollovers of unused amounts from the previous year. Another factor to consider is what to do with unused PTO hours. Depending on the rules of your state, you may be allowed to place a limit on the number of PTO days that can carry over to the next year. Some states like California do not recognize a “use it or lose it” policy which means that employers must allow employees to carry over unused hours from year to year. However, California does allow employers to cap the amount of PTO that an employee can accrue at any given time. Another consideration is how to manage PTO scheduling. We recommend that whenever possible, PTO should be scheduled in advance and be subject to supervisory approval so managers can balance the operational and service delivery needs of the firm with the time off preferences of the staff.
Successful implementation of a PTO program depends largely on communication. We recommend that you clearly communicate your PTO policy to your employees through team meetings and by including it in your employee handbook.
For many people in today’s workforce, flexibility is a premium benefit and many employees look at a PTO program as a way to improve their work-life balance. But regardless of which type of time-off policy your firm may have in place, paid leave is an essential employee benefit, and it can serve as a powerful recruitment and retention tool.
Rosie the Robot, Amazon, and the Future of RAAI
Written by: Travis Briggs, CEO at ROBO Global US
It’s tough to find a kid out there who hasn’t dreamed about robots. Long before artificial intelligence existed in the real world, the idea of a non-human entity that could act and think like a human has been rooted in our imaginations. According to Greek legends, Cadmus turned dragon teeth into soldiers, Hephaestus fabricated tables that could “walk” on their own three legs, and Talos, perhaps the original “Tin Man,” defended Crete. Of course, in our own times, modern storytellers have added hundreds of new examples to the mix. Many of us grew up watching Rosie the Robot on The Jetsons. As we got older, the stories got more sophisticated. “Hal” in 2001: A Space Odyssey was soon followed by R2-D2 and C-3PO in the original Star Wars trilogy. RoboCop, Interstellar, and Ex Machina are just a few of the recent additions to the list.
Maybe it’s because these stories are such a part of our culture that few people realize just how far robotics has advanced today—and that artificial intelligence is anything but a futuristic fantasy. Ask anyone outside the industry how modern-day robots and artificial intelligence (AI) are used in the real world, and the answers are usually pretty generic. Surgical robots. Self-driving cars. Amazon’s Alexa. What remains a mystery to most is the immense and fast-growing role the combination of robotics automation and artificial intelligence, or RAAI (pronounced “ray”), plays in nearly every aspect of our everyday lives.
Today, shopping online is something most of us take for granted, and yet eCommerce is still in its relative infancy. Despite double-digit growth in the past four years, only 8% of total retail spending is currently done online. That number is growing every day. Business headlines in July announced that Amazon was on a hiring spree to add another 50K fulfillment employees to its already massive workforce. While that certainly reflects the shift from brick-and-mortar to web-based retail, it doesn’t even begin to tell the story of what this growth means for the technology and application firms that deliver the RAAI tools required to support the momentum of eCommerce. In 2017, only 5% of the warehouses that fuel eCommerce are even partially automated. This means that to keep up with demand, the application of RAAI will have to accelerate—and fast. In fact, RAAI is a key driver of success for top e-retailers like Amazon, Apple, and Wal-Mart as they strive to meet the explosion in online sales.
From an investor’s perspective, this fast-growing demand for robotics, automation and artificial intelligence is a promising opportunity—especially in logistics automation that includes the tools and technologies that drive efficiencies across complex retail supply chains. Considering the fact that four of the top ten supply chain automation players were acquired in the past three years, it’s clear that the industry is transforming rapidly. Amazon’s introduction of Prime delivery (which itself requires incredibly sophisticated logistics operations) was only made possible by its 2012 acquisition of Kiva Systems, the pioneer of autonomous mobile robots for warehouses and supply chains. Amazon recently upped the ante yet again with its recent acquisition of Whole Foods Market, which not only adds 450 warehouses to its immense logistics network, but is also expected to be a game-changer for the online grocery retail industry.
Clearly Amazon isn’t the only major driver of innovation in logistics automation. It’s just the largest, at least for the moment. It’s no wonder that many RAAI companies have outperformed the S&P500 in the past three years. And while some investors have worried that the RAAI movement is at risk of creating its own tech bubble, the growth of eCommerce is showing no signs of reaching a peak. In fact, if the online retail industry comes even close to achieving the growth predicted—of doubling to an amazing $4 trillion by 2020—it’s likely that logistics automation is still in the early stages of adoption. For best-of-breed players in every area of logistics automation, from equipment, software, and services to supply chain automation technology providers, the potential for growth is tremendous.
How can investors take advantage of the growth in robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence?
One simple way to track the performance of these markets is through the ROBO Global Robotics & Automation Index. The logistics subsector currently accounts for around 9% of the index and is the best performing subsector since its inception. The index includes leading players in every area of RAAI, including material handling systems, automated storage and retrieval systems, enterprise asset intelligence, and supply chain management software across a wide range of geographies and market capitalizations. Our index is research based and we apply quality filters to identify the best high growth companies that enable this infrastructure and technology that is driving the revolution in the retail and distribution world.
When I was a kid, I may have dreamed of having a Rosie the Robot of my own to help do my chores, but I certainly had no idea how her 21st century successors would revolutionize how we shop, where we shop, and even how we receive what we buy - often via delivery to our doorstep on the very same day. Of course, the use of RAAI is by no means limited to eCommerce. It’s driving transformative change in nearly every industry. But when it comes to enabling the logistics automation required to support a level of growth rarely seen in any industry, RAAI has a lot of legs to stand on—even if those “legs” are anything but human.
To learn more, download A Look Into Logistics Automation, our July 2017 whitepaper on the evolution and opportunity of logistics automation.
The ROBO Global® Robotics and Automation Index and the ROBO Global® Robotics and Automation UCITS Index (the “Indices”) are the property of ROBO who have contracted with Solactive AG to calculate and maintain the Indices. Past performance of an index is not a guarantee of future results. It is not intended that anything stated above should be construed as an offer or invitation to buy or sell any investment in any Investment Fund or other investment vehicle referred to in this website, or for potential investors to engage in any investment activity.
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