The Truth About a Use-It-or-Lose-It PTO Policy
Another year is winding down. If your company offers a use-it-or-lose-it vacation policy — meaning your employees have to take their allotted PTO ahead of Dec. 31 to enjoy their maximum benefit — chances are virtually everyone on your team has put in a request to take some time off in December.
Employees work for many reasons, but chief among them are salary and benefits. If your team members are each given 15 days off over the entire year, for example, at least a good chunk of them are going to try to use them all. (A good chunk, but not all: according to Time, 41% of U.S. workers don’t plan to use all of their vacation days this year.)
You Can’t Deny Employees PTO
But what happens when you have too many people asking for the same days off? After all, there are only so many working days in December. You probably can’t afford to give the same day off to your entire team while being able to keep your doors open and adequately service customers. (Unless you went in the direction of a company like LinkedIn, which completely shuts down the week after Christmas, reports The Huffington Post.)
You might grant employees days off on a first-come, first-served basis. Which is certainly fair, but the contract you’ve signed with your employees indicates that they’re able to take a specific amount of time off each year.
If everyone waits until the end to request their days off, it’s definitely unfortunate. But in the effort of fairness, don’t you owe that time off to them?
Here Comes the Stress
All told, use-it-or-lose-it vacation policies can really put companies in a difficult position.
If managers approve all end-of-the-year requests, there might not be enough workers on hand to get the job done at any given time. Additionally, with so many workers coming and going over the last few weeks of the year, it can be difficult to move projects forward in a timely and cohesive manner.
On the other side of the coin, if managers deny the requests of some of the folks who asked for time off later than their peers, it’s virtually guaranteed that those workers will be miserable — stuck at the office during the holidays. Workers who are denied time off will likely not be too productive. Completely disgusted by a perceived slight, they may decide it’s time to switch jobs, killing your employee retention rate. And in extreme cases, workers may decide to take you to court for unfair treatment.
The Easy Fix
Instead of sticking with an archaic use-it-or-lose it vacation policy, consider allowing your staff to roll vacation days over from one year to the next. In doing so, you’re essentially providing additional flexibility at the workplace — which is pretty much all everyone wants these days.
Worried that your entire staff will horde their vacation days for three years and then take like nine-week vacations at the same time? Make some sort of rule: employees can only roll over five vacation days each year.
There’s no sense in fighting over PTO you’ve already offered and agreed to pay. Use-it-or-lose-it policies can make it seem like businesses are hoping employees don’t use all their days off so their bottom line is a little healthier. Is that how you want your company to be perceived?