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Podcast: Are You Ready for Unlimited Vacation Time?

kayak with kids

Vacation time is a scarce and precious commodity for most employees.  When we use it, we want to make the most of it.  The picture here is me with my children in New Zealand a few years ago.  We saved and planned for a long time for that trip – including banking the vacation time we’d need.  But employees who have paid vacation time off aren’t just using it for vacations.

For many workers, the need for that time isn’t so much about multi-week trips as it is about having the means to get their work done while still having the flexibility to attend to personal priorities.  They’re using it to take care of obligations in their lives that occur during working hours – from child and elder care to visiting city hall when it’s open.

Unlimited vacation time is still a rare benefit, with fewer than 2% of US organizations offering it to their workers according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2016 Employee Benefits report.  Organizations who do implement unlimited leave need to prepare both employees and managers for that change.

In the absence of a policy that limits vacation leave, some managers may feel ill prepared to manage leave fairly across their teams.  Employees may be unsure as to how much leave is too much – and some may end up taking even less leave than before.  On the upside, in organizations where high trust exists between employees and managers, the flexibility that is possible with unlimited vacation leave helps to drive engagement and retention.

I recently interviewed two of our board members who have deep insight on this topic.  Sharlyn Lauby, also known as the HR Bartender, talks to lots of HR leaders who are contemplating this change.  Dave Almeda, Chief People Officer at Kronos, is already a year into the implementation of an unlimited vacation policy at Kronos.  Listen in below while we discuss:

  • What are the benefits of unlimited vacation time?
  • How should organizations prepare for this change?  How did Kronos do so?
  • What are the biggest challenges this change presents?
  • How do you train managers to have these conversations with employees; i.e. balancing employee requests for time off with productivity objectives?
  • How does this work in jobs that require presence vs. those that can be done on a laptop?

Listen in on our conversation then add your own comments.  Have you considered this policy at your organization?  If you haven’t implemented this change, why not?  If you have, what are the benefits? What would you have done differently?

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. DeeDee Edwards #

    As one of the hourly employees who initially “pushed back” at Kronos when our “my time” was rolled out I can only say how very pleased I am with this change in culture at Kronos.
    I can now attend to my personal business without “guilt” or “storing” days off, and trying to realistically coordinate scheduling too many appointments on a single day, or putting off important doctor’s appointments because I wasn’t able to coordinate their schedule with mine.
    Our “my time” plan at Kronos DID take a little getting used to, but I am a living testament that as an hourly employee, and with management cooperation, it has worked extremely well for me and my team.
    We actually communicate MORE now than we did in the past to ensure we have coverage for planned days out, and it helps us better accommodate unplanned emergencies.
    One year in to our “my time” PTO plan and I couldn’t be happier with the flexibility and stress relief it has provided to me personally.
    I can’t imagine going back to the more traditional method of ‘accruals’ (and being forced to “use it or lose it” every year, or only being able to carry over 2 weeks vacation if you know you have a major event upcoming that will require more time), now that we’ve implemented our “my time” policy at Kronos.
    And I definitely count it as one of the biggest benefits I’m offered as an employee.

    April 6, 2017
  2. Joyce Maroney #

    DeeDee,
    Thanks so much for your feedback – which seems to be shared by many employees at Kronos.

    April 6, 2017

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