Why Unlimited Vacations May Not Be As Liberating As They Sound
That freedom may be sweet, but it comes with added responsibility.
Has there every been a sweeter-sounding combination of words than “unlimited vacation?” The plush job bennie—also known as “discretionary PTO” if you fancy—is gaining serious traction as a priority for job seekers. And it’s no wonder why.
For employees, it’s a game changer when it comes to harnessing that work-life balance we all so desperately crave. As many three-day weekends as you please, plus that week-long beach vacation plus that obligatory trip home for the holidays? Yes, please.
And as much as it sounds too good to be true, companies that utilize this policy really aren’t pulling one over on you. Because it’s such a coveted job perk—particularly among millennials—it enables them to attract and keep top-tier talent.
And of course, they’re likely saving some serious dough: When an employee leaves or gets laid off, there’s no unused vacation pay for them to shell out, which can add up to thousands of dollars—especially considering Americans are actually really bad at taking time away from work.
Wins all around, in other words. But here’s the thing: There’s something of a psychological shift that occurs when a company and its employees move from traditional, accrued PTO to unlimited vacation.
While employees have of course always been expected to complete their work ahead of checking out, the concept of employees “earning” time off means that it’s not something that can be taken away. Thus, there’s less incentive to cross your i’s and t’s ahead of changing into your flip flops.
Unlimited PTO, on the other hand, is based on a system of mutual trust between employer and employee, and because of that, there’s an even greater expectation that you’re going to have everything handled in your absence. Basically, you have to demonstrate that you are Frodo and can handle the tremendous responsibility bestowed upon you.
As such, it requires some serious preparation and effective communication. As Craig Bloem notes for Inc., being a responsible vacation-taker requires that you plan ahead, set clear expectations and goals, and cover for your teammates while they’re on vacation.
It’s worth keeping in mind, too, that this workplace win-win is still in its nascent phases, and for those lucky enough to have a company that adheres to it, it’s up to us to ensure this perk maintains a good reputation.
Because having companies walk back awesome benefits like IBM did earlier this year with it’s work-from-home policy will put some serious bummer in your summer, and you don't want to be that person, do you?
Words: Deena Drewis
Photos: Daria Kobayashi Ritch / Giphy