For employees, an unlimited paid time off (PTO) policy sounds like a dream come true. In essence, unlimited PTO allows you to take as much vacation as you like and still get paid. Despite benefits to the employee, there are often cited benefits to the employer. It’s a win-win situation, right? Unlimited PTO is not that simple and should be explored before deciding whether this is a suitable approach to leave.
In this article, we explore the benefits of unlimited PTO policies, the challenges of unlimited PTO, insight into how we do unlimited PTO at Jarvis, and the importance of creating a positive culture around time off.
What is unlimited PTO?
Unlimited paid time off is an approach to vacation or absence policies that more companies are adopting. Traditionally, companies have a time-off policy that details the number of sick, vacation, bereavement, or other days an employee can use each year. When they take these days, they are still paid despite their absence. Unlimited PTO on the other hand does not limit the number of paid days an employee can take off each year.
The benefits of unlimited PTO
- Encourages employees to take time off when they need it: In 2018, a survey by Glassdoor found that the average American only took about 54% of their available time off in the previous 12 months. This means that many workers are not taking advantage of time off. Not taking days off can lead to underproduction as a result of exhaustion and stress. Unlimited PTO can encourage employees to take time off when they need it. If a person feels tired, unproductive or otherwise unmotivated, they can simply go home for the day without penalty or judgment from their employer.
- Promote and supports work-life balance: Unlimited PTO allows employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance. This can result in feeling refreshed and energized upon return. In a poll by Joblist Survey, 62% of employees who worked for a company with unlimited PTO reported good work-life balance.
- Support and promotes employee retention and attraction: Unlimited PTO policies provide an exciting morale boost to current team members and are a great way to demonstrate trust in your team. Additionally, unlimited PTO is highly attractive to new talent. A 2017 survey about PTO found that 51% of participants would take a job for 10% less pay (all else being equal) if the job offered unlimited PTO. These facts make offering unlimited PTO a great way to make your organization competitive in today’s job market.
The challenges of unlimited PTO
- Expectations much be clear: All employees need to be on the same page and understand what is expected of them when it comes to using unlimited PTO. For example, it’s important to discuss how much time is too much time, whether time off needs to be logged, or other logistics.
- There must be a strong sense of team: When someone takes time off, it’s crucial to be clear on who will cover in your absence. As an employer, you may want to provide backup plans for those times when you might need coverage but don’t have it already built into your schedule (like a vacation). This can help prevent resentment from other team members who are left working extra hours or feeling like someone else is getting special treatment.
- Maintaining productivity and efficiency: You don’t want productivity to suffer as a result of unlimited PTO. While it is widely proven that unlimited PTO has a positive impact on productivity, no two work environments are the same. Thus, monitoring productivity is essential to understanding whether unlimited PTO is having the desired results. A negative impact on productivity suggests something in your plan has gone awry and needs to be reassessed.
Flexible PTO Success Strategies at Jarvis
We have recently implemented a pilot program for Flexible PTO at Jarvis. So far, we have experienced a smooth and seamless transition. Some of the strategies that we use to support a successful Flexible PTO model at Jarvis include:
- Setting clear expectations: All Jarvis employees are required to attend Flexible PTO Training. Here they are briefed on what Flexible PTO means and how it works at Jarvis. This training helps ensure everyone understands how to use this benefit properly. We’ve also prepared written documentation on utilizing Flexible PTO. This document is easy to access so that it can be referred back to. It includes details such as:
- Balanced time off to not overwhelm a single team member
- Limits on consecutive weeks of time off that can typically be taken
- Ensuring leadership utilizes their time off to send the right message to the team
- Logging and coverage systems: Despite the fluidity of Flexible or Unlimited PTO, we maintain a certain amount of structure. This allows us to ensure that business operations continue to be both effective and efficient while people are taking vacation and time off for other reasons. First, team members still log time off in a tracking tool. This helps ensure there is awareness about someone being out of the office and helps avoid too much overlapping time off among team members. Second, when it comes to planned vacations, employees must set up coverage plans with their dedicated coverage partner. This allows us to ensure operations continue to run smoothly in their absence.
- Developing a results-oriented culture: Flexible PTO works so well at Jarvis because we have a results-oriented culture. This means the outcomes you achieve are valued over the number of hours you spend at your desk. This allows us to invite employees to take off whatever amount of time works best for them, so long as they can still successfully reach their business objectives.
Creating a positive culture around time off
The first step to making unlimited PTO policies work is to create a positive culture around time off. It’s important to establish clear expectations and rules for employees, as well as transparently communicate the benefits of taking time away from work. You should also make sure that your team is aware of what is expected of them during their time off, so they don’t feel pressured or stressed about getting caught up on tasks when they return from leave.
Finally, it’s important to empower employees to take time off by making it clear that they can take time off without worrying about job security. By doing this, you will promote trust among team members and increase engagement in your company’s growth goals.
We believe that unlimited PTO is the future of work. It may take some time for companies to adjust, but in the end, we think it will be worth it. Not only is unlimited PTO good for employees and their families, but studies show that it also makes for happier and more productive workers—which means your business will benefit from implementing this policy too! We hope this article helped explain why you should consider making the switch from traditional time off tracking methods to an unlimited paid time off plan at your company.
People Experience Manager
As a People Experience Manager at Jarvis, Taylor is responsible for fostering excellent client experiences as well as managing internal employee engagement & culture.
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Jarvis is a leading IT consulting firm headquartered in Canada that provides total talent solutions with ongoing partnerships across North America’s top financial institutions, cutting-edge startups, and major technology companies.
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