Unlimited Time Off – Too Much of a Good Thing?

We are a big proponent of ensuring employees receive the benefits they want/need in order to help with continuous employee engagement, motivation, and productivity. Recently, we’ve noticed a growing trend that several companies (including Hubspot and Netflix) are offering unlimited time off from work. Sounds like a pretty enticing perk – take as much time off as you want as long you get your work done. But could this be too much of a good thing?

We often help clients weigh the pros and cons of benefit policies by sharing our collective knowledge. For example, here are some of our client’s examples of benefits and onboarding strategies as well as our employee appreciation ideas.

Organizations, like people, don’t necessarily march to the beat of the same drum. Some need to operate in a very steady, even and predictable manner. Others need to have operational fluidity, spontaneity and a more go-with-the-flow approach. Neither approach is right or wrong so long as positive results are being delivered.

As you think about potentially offering an unlimited time off benefit, consider the following:

  • Does it work for your industry? Some industries require a lot of structure and control over workflow and people resources. You need to be sure that your business can sustain this and is something to take into consideration as you create your employee benefits program.
  • Can this benefit be tracked? If your organization cannot budget around the anticipated costs of time, limits need to be established to ensure the organization can manage this benefit in a fiscally responsible manner.
  • Do you have the structure in place to ensure employees can truly utilize (not abuse) the benefit? This type of benefit has the potential to create unintended employee relations issues (e.g., disparate treatment, morale, performance issues, etc.). For example, some employees may be more inclined to take off a lot of time whereas others may feel compelled not to for fear of looking like they’re slacking. We encourage you to have a thoughtful communications plan to address any gray areas and to clarify expectations.
  • Is it compliant with local, state and federal labor laws? This type of benefit brings a level of ambiguity so it is important to consult your HR department to ensure it is compliant with applicable labor and employment laws. Certain state and local laws may require specific monitoring and record keeping of time off practices.

While we admire policies that are creative and are customized to employees we always encourage clients to consider how such a benefit aligns with relevant employment laws, business practices, company culture and individual motivating factors.

We’d like to hear from you! What do you consider the pros and cons of the unlimited time off benefit? And what benefits do you offer your employees that you have found to be motivating and help create a successful culture?

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