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As a business owner or senior manager, I’m sure you’re well aware of the Unlimited Paid Time (PTO) debate. Is it for real? It’s a joke? Like many of my clients, you probably dismissed this as a fad or something impractical. But many companies are discovering that this can be a very practical and powerful advantage.
Here’s what a recent study by an HR platform found Namely found. According to the study, 34.5% of the 1,000+ companies surveyed offer an unlimited PTO plan, and that number has grown significantly over the past few years.
Yes, your business can have Unlimited Paid Time Off (PTO). And of course, there are many pros and cons, some of which I will describe below. But an unlimited PTO plan isn’t as hard to implement as you might think. And for me, the benefits far outweigh the costs.
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So, if you’re thinking about it, here are a few things I’ve learned from some of my clients who are doing it right.
The first thing to know is that your unlimited PTO plan doesn’t have to be your only PTO plan. Most of my clients with unlimited PTO plans have multiple plans. For example, there is a PTO plan for hourly employees that might include the standard 2-3 weeks off plus sick days, and then another plan for salaried or senior managers that allows more free time and might include sick days.
Your PTO plan is your decision. There is no law (yet) about the type of plan you offer (although in some states, for example Illinois, Maine and Nevada – require employers to provide leave). The unlimited PTO plan that you offer to your employees can be a real nirvana, Mecca, the peak and pinnacle of all vacation benefits. This may be a goal that everyone wants to achieve, but in order to do so, they must complete. This brings me to the next point.
And it is that people should only be eligible for your unlimited PTO plan after certain requirements are met. For my clients with these plans, they only consider employees who have been with them for at least two and sometimes five years. This is a reward for loyalty and good work. Other eligibility requirements may include the employee’s position in the company, compensation levels, or the achievement of certain performance targets. Many of us struggle not only to attract new talent but also to retain our best people, and an unlimited PTO plan can be the go-to for that goal, which brings me to my next point.
Related: Microsoft employees will no longer have to earn vacation days thanks to this new policy
And it is that unlimited PTO plans are a great sale. Most employees like the word “unlimited” when it comes to their vacation. The workplace has changed, and now, in addition to medical and retirement plans, good companies are also redefining the concept of flexibility, offering more options for remote work and leisure. So if you can implement such a plan in your company, you will have a great opportunity to attract talent – especially young talent who appreciate this advantage more – during these difficult times.
Just be aware of the flaws. For example, studies like Namely’s have shown that employees working at companies with unlimited time off plans tended to take fewer days off than they did under previous “use it or lose it” plans. This is a potential mental health issue that has led some companies to require employees to take at least two weeks off work.
“Obviously unlimited time off has earned the trust of employees, but to what end?” says Amy Roy, director of human resources at Namely. “Regardless of their company’s plan, it seems like workers are taking fewer days off. Employers concerned about the well-being and retention of their employees are encouraging the use of paid leave as it gives employees a chance to reset and rejuvenate.”
Like Roy, you may still have concerns about the mental health of your employees. And you may have other concerns.
On the subject: Companies should be better at hiring, not firing. 7 Tips for Selecting and Retaining the Best Talent in Tough Economic Times.
How the heck can your company avoid having employees disappear for weeks or months on end, you may ask, while still using an unlimited PTO plan? Well, I’ve learned from several successful clients to include an important caveat.
The point is, yes, an employee can take “unlimited” leave, but any leave must be approved in advance by the manager. This policy ensures that someone doesn’t say, “Hey, I’ll be surfing in Australia for the next few months, see you!” As long as the boss is happy with the amount of time someone takes, it’s good for everyone around. This is a strict control to avoid excessive use of your program by people.
The takeaway is that today’s workers love to talk about the “four-day work week” and “Minimum Monday” and as frustrating as it sounds to business owners who do the exact opposite, smart companies should respond with benefits that help. employees achieve greater flexibility and work-life balance. An unlimited PTO plan can be just that if implemented correctly.