That’s it. You’ve read part one of this story, and are convinced the advantages of unlimited vacation outweigh the disadvantages. So, what happens now? How do you make an unlimited PTO plan, a reality for your business?
This post is the second part of our two-week coverage about all things unlimited vacation. In week one we covered the pluses and minuses of discretionary time off. This week will detail how to implement and maintain an unlimited PTO policy.
To maximize the benefits of unlimited vacation, it is imperative that you not only understand what it is but how best to run it.
Read part one, of this story to understand the advantages of unlimited vacation.
Making a Decision
Before implementation, you have to decide what it is you are implementing. In this case, you have to determine that discretionary PTO offers you company more advantages than it does disadvantages.
As a quick recap here are the advantages: improved recruitment and retention, greater employee flexibility, increased employee morale, and a reduction in costs. The disadvantages are: change is difficult for people and organizations, it can foster guilt and resentment, employee abuse of the system, and your staff may end up using less vacation time.
After you’ve read through the pros and cons, it is decision time. You believe that unlimited PTO is the best choice for your business. Here’s how you implement it.
Implementing Unlimited Vacation
There are many ways your company should prepare itself for implementing and maintaining an unlimited vacation plan. These are the top seven practices your business can use to implement an unlimited vacation policy successfully.
1. Educate and Train
The first step to implementing a discretionary PTO policy is to educate and train your employees, including management. Create a FAQ document, hold training sessions, and post educational videos on the company website or intranet. Educate your employees on what will be expected from them under the new plan.
These expectations include: When it’s appropriate to take time off, how to submit a request for time off, what their performance indicators will be, and what the consequences will be for anyone caught abusing the system.
Similarly, train your leadership team to manage employees under this new time off policy. The HR department has to teach your managers to ensure they know how best to approach the policy.
2. Make Management Leave
Management taking time off is key to the implementation of a limitless vacation plan. If your leadership team is working overtime and never taking any vacation, it will set a precedent throughout your organization.
Many employees won’t feel comfortable taking time off if their boss isn’t doing the same. These workers will be scared their job may be on the line if they leave. Seeing your supervisor take time off reinforces the idea that it is acceptable to get away from the office every once in a while.
3. Measure Performance
Proper performance measurement and management are critical to an unlimited vacation policy. Every position in your firm has to have a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that track an individual’s performance in that role.
These KPIs give managers actual data from which they can objectively monitor employees’ performance. Under an unlimited vacation plan, your managers have to be able to observe and recognize any change in employee performance.
Time off is not tracked under a discretionary PTO plan, that is why there has to be a means to track whether employees are abusing the policy. It is difficult for a manager to tell an employee they are taking too much time off if there is no way to track changes in performance. KPIs give managers specific numbers they can use to track an employee’s work.
4. Establish Processes
Just because your company has decided to implement a limitless vacation plan does not mean that your office should turn into a place where people come and go as they please. Establish processes within your firm that ensure time off is used properly.
Create processes for tasks such as requesting time off, handing off projects to coworkers, and notifying colleagues of an upcoming absence. These processes give an order to what could otherwise be a chaos-inducing policy.
5. Hire Better
One of the keys to a successful unlimited vacation plan is hiring and retaining employees who won’t abuse the system. If your company already has these employees, then take steps to ensure this doesn’t change.
According to Entrepreneur, there are multiple methods your firm can use to preserve or build its talent to fit with a discretionary PTO plan. The first is to encourage employee referrals for open positions.
A study by Glassdoor found that employee referrals increase the odds of successful job matches by up to 6.6 percent. Incentivize these referrals to improve your odds of a successful hire.
Similarly, when interviewing candidates, make sure that you are looking for self-reliant and proactive individuals. These individuals will have an easier time staying on top of their work and using unlimited vacation appropriately.
6. Mandatory Minimum Time Off
One of the biggest concerns for employees, regarding discretionary PTO plans, is how much is an appropriate or “normal” amount of time off. Don’t leave these employees in the dark. Specify the minimum amount of vacation each employee should take for a year.
7. Trust Your Employees
Ultimately a limitless vacation will only succeed if your company has a certain amount of trust in its employees. So, your firm has to trust that its workers will be responsible for their time off, and won’t abuse the system.
Trust your employees to make decisions on their own. Trust them to know when and how much time off they can take. Then, if an employee does end up abusing the policy, you know which of your employees you can’t trust.
Likewise, for an unlimited vacation plan to truly work, your employees have to trust management. They have to believe that the company’s leadership will implement and manage the new policy fairly, and in the best interest of the employees.
The decision to begin using an unlimited vacation plan for your organization is important. Still, implementing this decision is even more challenging.
These seven steps are essential to a successful implementation and will make your company’s transition much less painful.