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Has anyone implemented a non-traditional PTO policy?

Hi there, people geeks!

I’m helping to create a PTO policy for a growing business, and the president doesn’t want to take the common approach by just giving an accrued few weeks off per year. The shared goal we have is to make it so that team members who are getting their job done don’t have to worry about taking time off but to also not make it so that people don’t ever take a vacation because of that. Has anyone found a happy balance between unlimited PTO and 2 weeks of PTO per year? Also, what cultural shifts did you make so that the plan was a success? I’d also love to hear options for full-time hourly employees if you have them!

Thank you!

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Hi @Hannah_Paige!
I’ve had experience with employers who had PTO policies and unlimited PTO policies. As you stated, companies struggle with the notion of either not providing enough PTO or they provide an unlimited (flexible) policy that really isn’t that “flexible”. In California, where unused vacation/PTO accrual is to be paid out upon one’s departure, doing away with an accrual based policy reduces the liability for the company. When I was reevaluating our policy, in my research I came across companies that were moving away from “unlimited” and replacing with a Minimum Vacation policy where by they encouraged employees to take at min 3 weeks of vacation with no max vacation recommendation leaving it open for one to take more. I also found companies would opt for forced closures (if they could) during holidays rather than add more time off. When everyone is off at the same time, people feel less compelled to work while on vacation. Other companies might include monetary incentives to encourage employees to take time off. Figure out what problem you are trying to solve for so when applying the right solution you’ll garner more buy-in from employees. We decided against unlimited at one company because it wasn’t going to solve the problem of getting people to use the vacation already provided them. Rather, we put in measures that encouraged employees to time off and make them feel supported so they could fully disconnect. Hope you find some useful nuggets here.


I definitely found some useful nuggets, thank you so much! I’ve felt a little overwhelmed since we don’t have a policy in place yet, so your reminder to figure out the problem we’re trying to solve was so needed.

Thanks again!

PS: I see that this is your first time posting. Welcome to the community =)

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Hey Hannah - great question and thanks for posting it here.

I think that Michelle did a great job in her response, especially around getting a handle on what you are solving for before solving anything.

All of that said, I wanted to share something that I saw a company do and found it interesting.

They incentivized vacation by giving a vacation allowance to be used during their time off. It may have even been attached to having to take a certain number of days off, (example) $1500 after an employee takes three weeks of vacation.

This was promoted as a perk attached to a value, something around valuing personal time.

I did like how they attaches it to a value and in essence, put their money where their mouth was.

I hope that this adds some additional insight and something to think about.


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@Craig_Forman Thank you! I love the idea of attaching value to the vacation. Even if it’s not something we can do here, it definitely has me thinking about ways to attach or emphasize the value of taking a dedicated rest break from work. Thank you for the input!

Hi @Hannah_Paige,

Another approach which I’ve come across at a travel organization, is to incentivize taking leave by adding bonus time for employees who used their annual leave allocation periodically throughout the year.

Not only did this encourage consistent breaks to recharge; being a travel company, it promoted their employees to travel more! This resulted in a win-win situation, as the employees used their own service more frequently, in-turn gained a greater understanding of their customer’s experience; which amplified their ability to perform their roles!

Hopefully that gives you a little inspiration to formulate a solution that’s right for your company.