Unlimited Paid Time Off – Too Good To Be True?

June 5, 2012 at 10:00 am

What if your employer told you that you now have unlimited paid time off.  Meaning, if you need to take time, that’s fine and we’ll pay for it.  The only condition is that you must continue to meet your deliverables and the company’s expectations for performance.  Would that seem like a great deal to you?

There are quite a few companies that are beginning to institute just this kind of program.  The premise is that if you treat employees like the adults they are, they will perform well and your relationships will be more effective.  Most companies that have put this type of system into place have gotten outstanding results.  However, there are a few key success factors involved:

  • The organization must have a high-performing management team
  • Organizational objectives must be clear and quantifiable
  • Organization and personal deliverables must be well-defined
  • There must be a commitment to a trusting culture from highest level
  • There must be metrics for evaluating results
Dyn has put up a post explaining their time off system.  It’s one of the best I’ve seen at clarifying how unlimited time off should work.  The Starpress also has some nice coverage on the topic.
Will some employees take advantage of the system?  Yes.  And those employees are not a good fit for a culture of trust.  The recruitment process has to allow for that fit factor and focus on employees who can work in a trust-based environment.  Management will have to re-educate employees about how to meet expectations within the new system.
I do think that having a high-performing management team is the single most important factor in a successful system.  Managers must be on top of results and performance.  They must act on difficulties in a timely manner.  They must have strong relationships with their reports.

While a system of unlimited time off might be a bit much for employees to embrace at first, it embodies the work culture that our society is demanding – one of balance, flexible hours, and remote locations.  It allows employees to work how and when they need to, and still feel they are able to dedicate attention to family and personal issues.

What’s your take on unlimited paid time off – is it too good to be true?

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