You’ve seen it all before. A newer organization that, in an effort to court a more selective and younger worker base, offers a variety of perks that many can’t imagine larger and older organizations even implementing. Things like “unlimited sick days”, “wellness stipends”, and “unlimited snacks” appear all over start-up job listings, and for a good reason: They bring in the type of worker willing to work harder in exchange for a little bit of respect and the feeling that they’ll be listened to and cared for like the human being they are.

Much of the time, these perks are offered with the intent to compete with other potential employers and limit burnout among team members, but upon taking the job, many employees have found several of the offerings to be disingenuous. Many employees report that when they attempt to take advantage of one of the more popular offerings–unlimited time off–that they are not only prevented from doing so, but actually experience a certain level of pushback and even retaliation.

As a result, this has led to a healthy distrust of the perk, and a wide understanding that even though “unlimited” is what’s being offered, that may not be what you end up receiving. So, what do you do if you have an unlimited PTO policy, and you want your team members to take advantage of it? Simple: you don’t make it optional. That’s where Required Time Off comes in.

"We wanted to make sure that we had unlimited PTO, and that people were taking advantage of their rest time without limiting the policy." says the SalesLabX HR Generalist, Paula Diaz. "We saw in our research that other orgs require their team to take the time. We decided on 40 hours since that was a full week. Our hard worker bees need a rest!"

SalesLabX rolled out Required Time Off this year to great fanfare amongst the team, and its wording in our official policy is anything but complex. “To encourage work-life balance, SLX requires all team members to take 40 hours of PTO per calendar year. If no time off is requested by the start of Q4 (October), the HR and People-Ops team will collaborate with direct leads to assign the 40 hours of PTO to the team member.”

“Stress? We don’t like that. We don’t know her, and we don’t want her to visit so often.” said Diaz when asked how the new policy benefitted overall team morale, “A lot of the team members felt they couldn’t take more time off, but said that if it was required, they’d use it. Workplace happiness increases!”

SalesLabX wanted to make sure our team wasn’t going to become burned out, but as with many organizations with unlimited PTO, people weren’t taking days off because they couldn’t be sure how much was too much.

However, there’s been an uptick in use since the debut of the policy, and initial reports and general feedback tell us that our move to Required Time Off was a strong move to make.

Of course, many companies are still using standard PTO models, and there isn’t anything wrong with that. It may not fit their company culture, and it might work out for them just fine! But if their resistance to Required Time Off and Unlimited PTO is based on the idea that it will lead to a drop in productivity and profitability, then they’d be incorrect. Studies have shown that having that kind of flexibility prevents those drops, as employees are empowered to take the time they need by giving advance notice. With a standard PTO model, you’re more likely to have instances of call-outs, which will lead to more schedule disruption.

Overall, you need to be in sync with your team and determine which options will work best for them. They are the reason that you’ve come as far as you have, and as one of your most valuable assets, they need to be taken care of by you, their employer. The long-held belief that PTO needs to be restrictive and regimented isn’t the only way forward anymore, as trusting your employees to make adult decisions is resulting in just that. Of course, in every system, there may be people that take advantage of that leniency, but that should be handled by your HR department on a case-by-case basis. On the whole, your team is going to do whatever is best for them and you, and you should trust them in that.

At the end of the day, SalesLabX stands by this progressive new policy, knows that it will be beneficial going forward, and hopes that other organizations consider going a similar route when it comes to employee time off.

“We’re so proud to share what we have,” states Paula, excitedly. “We think it’s great and it works for us. We think it’s good! Try it!”

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