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I believe in trusting employees to be responsible adults.
I believe in getting rid of unnecessary process and bureaucracy.
I believe in promoting work as a part of life and life as a part of work.

And so you would think I would believe in unlimited PTO.
And what I can tell you is, it depends.  It depends on the unwritten rules of your culture.

I’ve seen unlimited PTO result in guilt-ridden vacationers or burnt out teams who are afraid if they take time off, they won’t get the raise or the promotion.

This happens when a workplace culture:

  • Rewards the person who works the most hours
  • Publicly praises the person who arrives early and leaves late
  • Considers working on weekends a form of loyalty

And let’s be clear – it’s in your best interest for your people to take vacation.  Vacation inspires and motivates our work.  There’s a sense of working hard to earn the right, the opportunity, to completely chill and be paid while doing it.  Vacation allows your team to recharge, rejuvenate, and return to the rest of the team with cool stories of adventure and/or family connection.  And these experiences often lead to creative connections and innovation.

Know there are many ways to peel this orange besides unlimited PTO.  One company – who really gets the cost of turnover – recruits and retains talent by offering a two week sabbatical anywhere in the US for the employee and their significant other after 2.5 years and a month long sabbatical to anywhere in the world after 5 years:

Paradoxically, boundaries often create freedom.  And unless you have a workplace culture in which there is more collaboration than competition, and a focus on results over hours worked, be very cautious with unlimited PTO.

To explore compensation and PTO issues in more depth, check out Culture Works. Also available on Amazon.

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1.6 min readLast Updated: October 12th, 2021Published On: January 26th, 2016Categories: Employee Recruitment Strategies, Organizational Development ProcessTags:

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