When we hired our first employees in 2015, one of the first questions we had to answer was how much paid time off should everyone receive. After considering past jobs and researching trends, it was a no-brainer: there shouldn’t be a limit. But why? Because an employee’s success at work depends on being healthy, both physically and emotionally, and that requires stepping away from their job when they need to.
Unlimited PTO is trendy, especially for technology companies and startups. It can be a selling point for new hires in a competitive market. And, companies like Netflix have written about and researched that staff end up taking just about as much time as they would normally, all while seeing increases in productivity and job satisfaction. More and more companies are making the business case for it because there is the data to backup the benefits of ditching a finite number of days.
For Interactive Mechanics, and for me too, flexibility is key. There is nothing more stressful than worrying about getting sick when you’re running low on paid time off, or trying to negotiate a vacation when you need to decompress, or when you simply need a mental health day (if anyone tells you those aren’t a real reason to take a day off of work, they are wrong). This flexibility allows members of our team to take off when they need to, work from home or remotely as needed, and work the hours that make the most sense for them.
But for this policy to work, it requires that leadership set an example that it is okay to leave the office. If managers or executives aren’t taking time off, it sets the bar for the rest of the company. This applies to all aspects of company culture and work-life balance policies. We advocate for a strict 40-hour work week, and it is the responsibility of leadership to set the tone and adhere to that, too. If an employee sees their manager working 12-hour days every day or sending emails on the weekends, they’re most likely going to follow their lead. If you want to advocate for a healthy balance, then you need to set the example for everyone else to follow.
Managing unlimited paid time off does require some extra planning and communication. Last minute absences can put a burden on the rest of the team, but are typically rare. Our policy asks that employees give one week notice for each day they’re looking to take off, so if a person is taking a week off, we ask for four weeks lead time to plan and prepare. Longer vacations require more planning, so we ask for more notice so team members can leave and not have to worry while they’re away.
Benefits like unlimited paid time off are an investment in a happy, healthy team. One of our core company values is compassion, which not only applies to our clients and partners, but also to caring for ourselves.