November 16, 2022
6 min read
These days, the concept of unlimited Paid Time Off (PTO) is a new trend especially in the tech sector. Forbes mentions it in one of its articles: “According to job site Indeed, the number of postings advertising unlimited vacation days as a benefit rose from about 450 per million in May 2015 to almost 1,300 per million in May 2019 - a surge of almost 180%.” And HiringLab mentions that “tech jobs are around six to eight times more likely to offer unlimited vacation than all job postings.”
Companies like Netflix, Sony Electronics, Evernote, Oracle and many more offer unlimited PTO. It has great benefits for companies like ours who are result-oriented and want to give a maximum of flexibility to their employees.
Let me give you a little bit of context about Rollee: We’re a fully remote start-up with more than 20 employees living in 12 different countries around the globe with different time zones and cultures. We’re hiring from anywhere in the world, and as we continue growing, we will onboard more and more employees.
Wellness and work-life balance are at the core of Rollee's values. As a People Manager, my goal is to make these values come alive with real and measurable initiatives, to improve the employee experience everyday.
When I joined Rollee in May 2022 as their first People Manager, my first mission was to define the Time Off Policy. At that stage, Rollee had about 15 employees and the most asked questions I got were about time off. Employees were asking me “how do I request time off” “which public holidays am I eligible for” “what if I’m sick”... We didn't have a global solution that could manage time off, as it was handled manually. So I got to work.
Our number one priority was to align our policy to the company’s values. We believe that giving flexibility, autonomy and ownership to our employees improves their work-life balance, their wellbeing and at the same time, their work performance. We wanted to establish a flexible policy where the employees are owners of their time. So, we decided to work on an efficient and long-term reliable unlimited PTO Policy.
We encourage our employees to take paid time off whenever they need it. In keeping with our values "Own your work" and "Take care of yourself & others", we believe that everyone manages their time the way they want or need to. Wellness comes first!
When we hear “Unlimited Time Off”, we think “Wow, that’s amazing!” and yes it can be amazing, but we also have to be aware of the challenges that come with it. Some employees may become “vacation enthusiasts” and some may never take days off.
What I learned from my experience is that unlimited PTO has a positive effect on employees if it is well managed. It has to be well documented internally. At Rollee, we set up a document clearly explaining the policy with the “what, why, how, when, what if”. Employees can refer to that document whenever they need it. The policy is constantly evolving to meet the needs of all employees.
Write your policy to capture the attention of employees. We often see policies as boring and written in a very formal language. People read it once and never consult it again. Some might not even read it at all. At Rollee, we use Notion to write all documentations. To provide an enjoyable reading, we wrote it in a familiar way and straight to the point, so that employees understand it easily.
Some employees may be shy to take days off when they don’t have a fixed amount of vacation time in the bank. For example, at Rollee, we established a minimum of PTO per year depending on the employee’s contract. We want to make sure that employees take days off, as it is important for their wellbeing.
Employees need to be aware of the policy to use it...obviously! But to ensure that they adhere to the policy, they need to understand the "why”. Why was it established? And it is an opportunity to remind the values of the company, to show the alignment. We, at Rollee, make sure that we explain the policy during every new employee’s onboarding, and we do follow ups during the year to get their feedback on the policy.
Measurement is key. On our side, we use Bamboo HR, our HRIS for employees to request vacations. We can then download reports of time off used and scheduled for each employee. Every quarter, we check if people take time off, take action when employees have not taken enough leave, and remind them of the policy and encourage them to schedule time off to recharge.
This is crucial. We want our managers to lead by example. Every manager, and up to our co-founders request all their leaves on our HRIS, no exception. It shows our employees that unlimited PTO is part of our culture and is even encouraged by management.
We established that policy in June 2022 and, since then, our employees are using this benefit regularly. How do we know it’s working? We set up specific KPI’s to follow our policies success.
I do regular check-ups with each employee, and in our last feedback session, we had a 100% appreciation of the policy. Our employees especially like the fact that Rollee gives them freedom to organize their time however they want to, and how it was beneficial for their work-life balance.
I measure the results of the policy by exporting a report from our HRIS and analyzing the PTO taken and scheduled in the past quarter. The first metric I check is the number of PTO taken during the quarter. I check if employees who joined Rollee at least 6 months ago used a minimum of 7 days off during the last quarter. The second metric I check is the annual days off taken per employee. I make sure employees on specific contracts, depending on their country, are using the legal number of time off they are eligible to take. This is just to make sure people use the minimum, but I have seen that, in most cases, employees have exceeded this minimum amount of leave. It means that they feel comfortable taking time off.
Every team member has a set of goals to achieve each quarter. I have not seen any negative impact on our employees productivity or motivation after the first months of our policy. I will do a deep check-in after 1 year to understand the positive and/or negative impact this policy could have had on our employees productivity.
As everyone lives in different contexts, the policy is used for many reasons. For example, some use it to take care of their children during school vacations or when they’re sick. An employee had to take care of a family member who had surgery and needed assistance. Another one teaches a class every 2 weeks, so she is grateful she can use her PTO for personal projects. Others use the unlimited PTO policy to rest and take care of themselves. And some employees love traveling and use their PTO to travel the world.
People usually have to manage their limited paid holidays and can miss important moments outside of work and the unlimited PTO is there to avoid those situations. With this policy, we want to give employees as much freedom and empowerment as we can, and we believe that it will increase happiness at work as well as performance.
Are you thinking of implementing a PTO policy in your company? Reach out to email@example.com and I will happily share more details about our policy with you!