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What Unlimited PTO Means to Employers and Employees

The evolution of employee benefits in the U.S. has been mind-numbingly slow compared to what we have seen elsewhere in the world. Take paid time off (PTO). The average U.S. worker gets less PTO than their counterparts in many other countries. Employers could change that with unlimited PTO.

Before you gasp, unlimited PTO is gradually becoming a more popular employee benefit. Companies are coming to the conclusion that keeping employees in the workplace for more days during the week isn’t as important as those employees getting their work done on time and up to standard.

This realization has begun to encourage employers to consider unlimited PTO as an employee benefit. Of course, unlimited PTO doesn’t work in every industry. It is not doable in the hospitality industry, for example. But where it works, it can mean some particularly important things to both employers and employees alike.

From the Employer’s Perspective

Employers are discovering they have plenty of good reasons to consider unlimited PTO as a benefit. For starters, it can add to a sound basket of ancillary benefits that makes employees happy. And according to Dallas-based BenefitMall, voluntaty benefits are more important than ever before.

In addition, offering unlimited PTO means that employers:

  • invest fewer administrative resources in managing PTO
  • have an easy-to-implement tool for boosting morale
  • can offer employees a greater level of flexibility
  • give employees reason to take greater ownership of their work.

It all adds up to unlimited PTO being a fantastic tool for recruiting and retaining talent. But there is a downside: running the risk that employees will be less productive by being in the office less frequently. However, there are ways to manage that.

From the Employee’s Perspective

Employers are gradually coming to the conclusion that offering unlimited PTO is good for business. But what about employees? What is their perspective?

Common sense dictates that employees are all in favor of unlimited PTO. Who among us doesn’t want greater control over our work schedules? How many of us would turn down the opportunity to decide for ourselves when to take time off?

Unlimited PTO means that employees can:

  • take time off to meet family obligations
  • schedule vacations more in line with their own needs and desires
  • work different shifts to accommodate non-work activities
  • pursue other interests they otherwise could not.

For the employee, unlimited PTO represents a measure of freedom. Couples can take advantage of it to reduce child care costs. Older workers can leverage it to realize a lifelong dream of traveling. Across the entire workforce, the possibilities are endless.

However, there is a downside to employees as well: being so overwhelmed by the idea of unlimited PTO that they don’t end up fully utilizing it. In essence, they take less time off because they are paralyzed by the fear of taking too much time off.

As Long as the Work Gets Done

Unlimited PTO seems quite reasonable in industries that do not require a set schedule or a defined number of on-duty staff members. Really, what does it matter how much time an employee puts in as long as the work gets done?

Is it possible that unlimited PTO is an incentive to be more productive and efficient? It’s possible. Knowing that you can leave the office as soon as your work is done is quite an incentive to buckle down and get it done.

It will be interesting to see how many employers get on the unlimited PTO bandwagon in the coming years. Some of us wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a standard employee benefit within a few years.

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