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?