Half of the following companies offer their employees unlimited paid time off, and the rest also have generous PTO policies. All of them seem to act in agreement that a greater effort toward better work-life balance makes for a happier, healthier employee and teams. These programs tend to emphasize trust, and that time off is at the discretion and good judgment of employees, and It seems to be working out in terms of employee retention and satisfaction.
Twitter does not track the amount of vacation/PTO days its employees take. It’s a policy adopted in the spirit of trust and empowerment, said Brian “Skip” Schipper, Vice President of Human Resources for the San Francisco-based social networking powerhouse. Employees are trusted to assess their own mental and physical needs and work with their managers and teams to plan time off. He also notes that it’s one that enables employees to devote time to work, achieve results and recharge at in the manner and location that’s best for them. Twitter also observes 10 holidays.
“Technology connects us to our work in a way that permeates our lives and blurs the lines of what was previously defined as the ‘work day,’” Schipper said. “At Twitter, employees are able to communicate directly and efficiently regardless of time zones or geographic locations, whether they are in front of a computer or on a mobile device. Great ideas are hatched, shared and executed any time and anywhere in the world.”
The Virginia-based auto retailer CarMax has a Time Away policy for salaried associates, who are granted as many paid days off as they feel they need for their health and well being.
“This policy encourages a healthy life/work balance, which leads to highly engaged associates, who are able to provide exceptional customer service to everyone who comes through our doors,” said Michelle Ellwood from the public affairs department. Employees are also granted six holidays annually.
Associate and manager feedback confirms that the Time Away policy is, unsurprisingly, a hit. “Benefit surveys have indicated that the Time Away Policy and the flexibility it provides is one of the most appreciated and desired benefits at CarMax and one that speaks to our culture,” Ellwood said.
The Palo Alto software company VMware is another organization that empowers employees to use their best professional judgement to work out schedules and usage of unlimited paid time off. The company doesn’t track how many days are taken off. Marketing operations program director Jenny Dang noted that literal work-life balance is hard to achieve so VMware strives for “work-life integration,” so work or life may take priority as needed. And with work-life flexibility, employees also have the option of working where they prefer when practical, such as those who live in San Fran but are assigned to the Palo Alto Headquarters may choose to work from home most of the time.
“I absolutely love the unlimited vacation policy,said Program Manager Hanna Friend. “Actually, all my friends are jealous when I tell them I can take vacation when I need. VMware’s unlimited vacation policy gives me the flexibility to take care of my own well-being and my family when I really need it without the stress of counting days I have off.”
At the San Francisco networking equipment systems manufacturer Cisco, employees can take up to 30 days of vacation, not counting 16 hours of floating holidays, with 20 days general PTO, but the average amount of days taken per year is 15.
"We have a trusting, professional culture and our PTO policy contributes to this. Employees are entrusted to work with their managers on scheduling time off,” said Brandon Walton, program manager of Human Resources. “Employees have provided feedback they really like the flexibility of our PTO plan and they can accrue up to 20 days as a new hire.
We have a year-end shutdown for several days and employees have commented that they like the ability to completely disconnect during this time. We take MLK day off, not President’s Day, and provide every employee with a floating holiday to take at their discretion."
At the Menlo Park, Calif.-headquartered global consulting firm Protiviti, employees operate on a Choice Time Off (CTO) policy, encompassing sick, vacation, and personal days. The amount of days off is based on an employee’s tenure, ranging from 20 to 30. Counting holidays, ten-year employees get 40 days off annually. Protiviti employees take off an average of 29 days per year.
In addition to CTO, Protiviti provides employees with sabbaticals, 10 paid holidays, and paid parental leave. “We know that providing employees with options for time off to meet their personal needs is important to retaining them – and it shows,” said Scott Redfearn, EVP of HR for Protiviti. “We have a high retention rate of employees who take advantage of our paid time-off programs.”
Employees at the Rochester, Minnesota medical practice and research group Mayo Clinic take an average of 23 to 38 paid days off annually, depending on their length of service. It’s done through their PTO program, which encompasses holidays, vacation and sick time in one account. Employees can also sell back their PTO hours for cash.
The policy is paying off. “The majority of employees list their benefits package as one of the top three reasons they work here,” said Brian Chihak, senior workforce analyst at Mayo Clinic. “Time off, in addition to the options for flexible scheduling, compressed work weeks and job sharing, give employees the ability to balance the demands of their work and personal lives.”