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PTO Requests Hit Four-Year High and Hiring Outpaces Turnover, New BambooHR Workforce Insight Report Finds

A new analysis of more than 4.3 million employee data points uncovers employees’ desires for career progression and work-life balance.

BambooHR, the leading cloud-based human resource platform where everything works together, released its first Workforce Insights Report, which found that January 2024 had the highest percentage of employees making Paid Time Off (PTO) requests since the beginning of 2019. The data—pulled from the BambooHR platform—also shows that the average number of employee performance reviews in companies is increasing annually and hiring is now outpacing turnover.

“As people leaders, we’re constantly trying to stay ahead of workforce trends that might impact the businesses we work in. However, some of the most common metrics published like unemployment rates and labor participation rates don’t always provide the insights we need to make informed decisions in our day-to-day work,” said Brad Rencher, CEO of BambooHR. “The Workforce Insights Report is BambooHR’s monthly deep dive on millions of employee data points captured in our platform across the globe. We want to give HR leaders and organizations a deeper understanding of the factors impacting their most valuable asset—their people.”

Time Off Requests Hit 4-Year High
While a higher proportion of employees are asking for PTO every year, PTO approvals aren’t keeping pace, leaving a wider gap of unapproved time off.

  • January 2024 had the highest percentage (56%) of PTO requests in the last four years.
  • Employee PTO requests have increased 11% on average annually since 2019, while approvals are only increasing 9% on average annually.
  • On average, 37% of employees make a PTO request every month, with around half of requests (49%) being approved. But, in 2023, 44% of employees made PTO requests.
  • The industry with the highest proportion of PTO requests to employees in February was finance, followed by nonprofits, with more than half of employees requesting PTO. Restaurant/food & bev ranked dead last for PTO requests.
  • Maine and Oklahoma are the top US states for PTO requests, while Puerto Rico and Utah have top approvals while being the lowest for PTO requests.

Performance Feedback Increases
The number of employee reviews is increasing every year, but not all regions see the same volume. The United States has fewer reviews than its global counterparts but is trending higher.

  • The average number of employee performance reviews is increasing by 15% annually.
  • There were 28% more reviews done in January 2024 than in January 2023.
  • Reviews consistently spike in the summer and winter, with the most manager and peer feedback completed between June and July and November through January.
  • US employees receive fewer peer reviews than in other countries, with 5 peer reviews for every manager review in the US compared to an average of 17 in other countries.
  • The average number of employee performance reviews is increasing by 10% annually in the US, compared to 8% in non-US countries.

Labor Market Opens Up
Layoffs have made headlines for more than a year, but hiring and job openings are now outpacing turnover in 2024.

  • Global turnover has decreased by 25% from February 2023 to February 2024.
  • At the end of 2023, turnover topped hiring, but from December 2023 to February 2024, hiring increased by 27% and job openings by 54%—the highest proportion of job openings since last March.
  • Every industry (education, nonprofit, construction, travel, healthcare, finance, and food/bev) has a higher proportion of hires than turnover, though in the tech industry, they are nearly equivalent with only a 7% difference.

“This data tells me employees value work-life balance and direct feedback more than ever before,” said Anita Grantham, Head of HR at BambooHR. “Managers looking to retain talent will need to take a closer look at what staffing needs they have and if increasing PTO and performance feedback is possible. The workforce isn’t shy about asking for these things. I think we’ll only see this trend continue and organizations will have to increasingly embrace those values to attract the new generations entering the workforce.”