Unlimited Vacation Policy: 5 Tips for Managers

We have published a post about the pros and cons of unlimited PTO recently , all based on our customers’ experience. Now we are giving them a voice in order to present you with 5 tips for a successful implementation of PTO in your company.

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Tip 1: Set an example (be a role model)

We are all human and we all need time off. The work will always be there. It’s important that you encourage time off and as a manager you should help your team to be able to take time off. Such a policy without a real-life example is simply a piece of paper.

Tip 2: Prepare yourself for questions

The unlimited vacation policy is still something new — your employees will have many questions, like:

  • is it truly “unlimited” or will we add some guidelines
  • how will it work with longer leaves of absence? Or short-term disability?
  • will you still track it — and how?
  • how will it work with Non-exempt (hourly) vs. Exempt (salaried) employees?
  • have you trained managers to embrace that this concept requires managing to outcomes/performance vs. managing to time off.
  • Questions and hesitations will come up, and the best time-saver for you is an easy FAQ prepared in advance.

Tip 3: Vacation remains vacation

Say it loud and clear: unlimited PTO vacation is still a vacation. You do not apply this policy to maximize remote working hours, but to let your people rest or spend time with their families. Unlimited vacation is a way of building trust between a manager and an employee, and to position your company as one of the most desirable places to work. Make sure people going on holiday really go on holiday. Otherwise, all this Unlimited Time Off in your company will be seen as fake.

Tip 4: Get ready for a great change

Unlimited PTO changes a lot in a manager’s life. Working hours will no longer be your basic measure. You need to focus on performance and contribution to evaluate your employee’s work. That demands new standards of work assessment. Can your top performing employee take more days off than a weaker performer? Or maybe you should hire top performers only and fire the rest? These questions are not easy, and they will definitely come up.

Tip 5: Make sure the moment is right

The unlimited vacation will not work in/for all companies. Before you decide taking the step towards unlimited PTO, make sure that the culture of your company exists and is built on trust between managers and employees. Unlimited PTO demands a lot from a manager — it takes a leader to manage a team trusting her or him. If you do not completely trust your people (and that works both ways), you should focus on relations first.

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