At a time when employees are operating from home more than ever with constant access to their work, it’s increasingly important for companies to help facilitate the right work-life balance. The introduction of an unlimited Personal Time Off (PTO) policy is a common way for employers to indicate their commitment to helping employees strike this balance.

Common Challenges of Unlimited PTO Policy

While this is an appealing concept,  unlimited PTO can be a challenging policy to implement effectively. Below are a few insights to help manage this trendy policy effectively.

Employees within an unlimited PTO structure typically struggle to understand the expectations surrounding this free-form approach. In fact, workers can become more attached to their work than ever, with studies showing that they end up taking less time off than with traditional PTO policies. This is partially because it’s easy for employees to conform to a company’s hard-work oriented culture. Caught up in the “hustle” of churning out high work loads, it becomes difficult for employees to break away from this herd-mentality and take adequate time off.

These drawbacks can be especially true for commission-based employees who often won’t accept the financial trade off of taking vacation days. Additionally, employees and job seekers alike tend to be skeptical of this promise, assuming they’ll be working harder without getting paid for vacations they never took.

Tips to Ensure a Successful Unlimited PTO Program

But when effectively managed, Unlimited PTO has the potential to benefit companies with a performance-based culture. One potential solution to the pitfalls of unlimited PTO days is for employers to create structure within this policy by setting parameters around how many days off are considered acceptable to set expectations and reduce skepticism.

Employees who reliably meet their goals and complete their work should be able to take advantage of the freedom unlimited PTO provides but for this to work, managers need to be proactive. It’s also important that the employers metrics for measuring worker success are based on performance and achievements instead of attendance. This can help reduce any anxiety surrounding the employee’s choice to take time off.

To help set employees up for success, managers can re-brand the concept of unlimited days off, favoring a “take what you need” mentality that takes pressure off of workers.

Lastly, maintaining sensitivity to when an employee is burned out and offering stretches where they can detach from work will make a big difference in creating functional unlimited PTO culture.

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