A year ago, a company I work with implemented unlimited PTO as part of their benefits package, hoping to make employees feel more empowered and engaged with their work-life. Instead, the opposite happened. They recently conducted an internal survey to figure out how much time off employees were taking, and our numbers showed that those with unlimited PTO are actually taking less time off than those with restricted time off! This leads to the conclusion that unlimited PTO isn’t doing anything but hurting our employees and ultimately hurting our businesses as well.
Unlimited PTO isn’t working for our company. Take a look at these recent numbers: 67% of employees take less time off when they have unlimited PTO than those who don’t. With unlimited PTO, employees are forced to face a fear of looking ineffective if they take full advantage of this benefit. They feel like they are in a no win situation.
Although unlimited PTO sounds great in theory, it can actually be counterproductive to its employees. Research has shown that when employees have restricted time off, they take advantage of their flexibility and are more engaged in their work. When PTO is limited people are more acutely aware of that time and feel obligated to use it. This is great for companies because their employees are more likely to be engaged and happy in their roles.
Employers need to help their workers recharge and refocus in order to stay engaged and productive. One way to do that is by instituting mandatory vacation time. While employees may grumble at first, eventually they’ll get back into a productive rhythm. Here’s how you can get started Give them more PTO than you think they should have. Then, make them take it! No rolling over PTO days to next year. No PTO buy out at the end of the year. Give them vacation and make them take it.
There are many benefits to providing your employees with unlimited time off (or PTO), including greater flexibility and a better balance with their role. But one unintended consequence of giving employees too much freedom is that they end up not taking as much time off. According to recent data, when employees were forced to track their days off, they took nearly twice as many vacation days as those without limits on their leave. This may be because employees who have no restrictions on how much time they can take off are less likely to use all of their allotted days than those who have to log them. This can cause problems for both employers and workers; after all, if you don’t take time off, you’re more likely to burn out or get sick—which means you’ll be less productive at work in general.
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