It’s summertime, and I believe talent advisors are in a unique position to influence the way in which our employees benefit from much-needed time away from work.
Time off is essential. It gives our colleagues a chance to relax, re-energize and refocus. And as much as is written about work-life balance, that balance doesn’t occur until people can fully detach from their day-to-day roles.
The untapped potential of systems
Talent advisors serve two vastly different parties: systems and employees. Systems are needed to provide structure and direction to companies. Many leaders don’t see systems for what they can be: tools to increase engagement and happiness. A vacation policy is a system that can be both a blessing and a curse for many workers. All too often, HR uses a system as a set of rules and regulations to control and discipline people. This method doesn’t work. It never has.
The system of “unlimited PTO” is a great case study to consider, because a recent movement to allow unlimited PTO and not have a set schedule has been picking up steam. When this topic is discussed among HR peers, people express a tremendous amount of angst, confusion, and anxiety. They say a system without boundaries is unthinkable.
Or is it?
The case for unlimited PTO
Having a system of unlimited PTO would present challenges, but it could work — and even thrive — in some environments. Yes, there are some environments that require certain staffing levels in order to get the work done (such as manufacturing environments, hospitality environments and restaurants). However, talent advisors could do some basic operational math and create a policy with the look and feel of unlimited PTO, while still accounting for the company’s need to conduct business.
I like the concept of unlimited PTO, which challenges my role in the restaurant and hospitality industry. I like the idea because it removes a system that feels like a compliance-driven and punitive attendance system. If we are only using PTO to keep track of people, and most companies do this, then paid time off is not really much of a benefit.
It’s hard for talent advisors to look at systems that challenge the status quo. Very few of us take the time to step back and envision things differently than how they currently exist. It may be because we don’t know how, or it may be that we are concerned what would happen if we altered the existing methods of how work is done.
My challenge to you
I would like to challenge everybody to experiment more with new systems. Develop scenarios to see how things would work. Identify gaps and propose theoretical solutions. Instead of dismissing new systems (like unlimited PTO), evaluate the idea to see how it could come to life. Be open minded and think about whether or not it makes sense for your employees and your business.
I’m not sure unlimited PTO will work for your company or mine, but I like the approach. When I consider the system, it allows me to stretch my thinking and see how I can change my ways and bridge the gap between systems and people. I hope you do some stretching in the future, too.
Maybe you could take some PTO and think about it.
Throughout the month of July, our resident talent advisors are discussing issues around work-life balance. Subscribe to Talent Advisor to stay on top of the latest blog posts and discussions around unlimited PTO, modeling good work-life behaviors as an employer, working from home, gender differences and PTO, maternity and paternity leave, and much more.