Minimum PTO: What Is It & Why You Should Adopt It
Imagine an America that ensured that all of its employees took a minimum number of vacation days each year. All employers would decide to prioritize their employees' mental health, work-life balance, family, and their identities outside the office.
What would that look like? Would workplaces crumble or would employees be more motivated, vibrant, and well-rounded individuals than ever before?
Let's take a look and see how minimum PTO actually works.
What is "Minimum PTO?"
Minimum PTO (MTO), also known as mandatory vacation or mandatory time off, is essentially a policy that requires employees to take at a minimum number of vacation days per year. While policies vary by duration, it’s standard practice for employees to pick their dates of leave, and organizations instruct how time off is booked and monitored.
MTO is an emerging trendy benefit to offer your workforce, and when done correctly, it signifies the company is dedicated to combating burnout and prioritizing their employees mental health.
Occasionally a minimum PTO policy will be inclusive of a consecutive day policy—meaning a company will require a portion of your PTO to take place over several consecutive days. For example, if your minimum PTO policy is 20 days, your company might mandate employees to take 10 consecutive days off to ensure employees are taking off larger blocks of time. This guarantees that employees are really taking a step back and that they have the opportunity and time to pursue something meaningful to them. The consecutive day policy is commonplace in the banking industry to safeguard against fraud and strengthen weak spots in the business.
But What About Unlimited PTO?
So now that you have a better understanding of minimum PTO, you’re probably wondering, why would I want to offer that as a benefit over Unlimited Paid Vacation?
The funny thing about Unlimited PTO, is that it’s hardly ever what it sounds like. Unlimited PTO is a purposely ambiguous policy that often has many unspoken or cultural rules within an organization.
Although it can be a really compelling recruiting tool, employees typically struggle to find the sweet spot between what’s acceptable and what’s excessive and often end up taking less time off than those with limited policies, in turn leading to a more burnt out workforce.
According to Forbes, “Many companies have adopted ‘flexible’ or ‘unlimited’ vacation policies but discovered that they’re poorly designed for getting people to take time off in a global pandemic, especially in the hard-core work cultures that often plague high finance and high tech.”
Unfortunately, the lack of policy utilization or the inability to unplug while taking vacation has led to a less productive workforce with greater turnover.
Minimum PTO in the Wild
Let’s take a look to see how some organizations have successfully implemented Minimum PTO policies.
Tech organization Carta inspired a values-driven organizational culture by “requiring our people to take a minimum of 15 days off. Beyond that, vacation time is still unlimited — and encouraged.” Through implementing a MTO policy they found, “We have more satisfied employees, more innovative workplaces and more appeal for top talent. And all that means we have greater potential for growth — and a stronger bottom line.”
Founder of We Are Rosie, Stephanie Nadi Olson, realized that she had to come up with an atypical vacation policy after learning that her employees felt scared to take time off as they felt responsible for the success of the young start up. Stephanie flipped the script and alleviated the guilt associated with taking time off by creating an alternative policy that stated, “Employees must take five days off per quarter—or lose out on their full bonus. (Employees also get an extra five days they can use whenever, for a total of 25 days of paid time off.)”
Protect Your Employees Wellbeing
Regardless of the best vacation policy for your organization, now more than ever, you need to encourage your employees to utilize their vacation in order to protect their mental wellbeing. As the workforce adjusts to the long term effects of the pandemic, permanent hybrid workforces, and constant catastrophe, individuals need to feel supported to take the space and the pause they might desperately need.
Read our other article to learn more about top benefits to offer employees in 2022.
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