Flexible Time Off Is Better For Everyone!

Avoid the ‘use it or lose it’ approach

Are you afraid to offer your workforce flexible time off, because they might leave you carrying the can for months at a time? Don’t worry – you’re not alone. Here at ADDA Infusion, we’ve seen more than our fair share of clients who were skeptical that such an arrangement could actually improve productivity. 

It can though! Let me show you how. But first…

Welcome back to the ADDA Infusion blog! If this is your first time here; we do these weekly. The aim is to comprehensively answer as many questions about HR as possible. We want this, our vlog series, and our team – to be your ‘go-to’ resource for all things HR. And the big bonus here is: it’s free!!

So flexible time off then. Who does it really work for? 

You’d be forgiven for thinking that such flexible employee arrangements would be the preserve of tech giants like Google, or Facebook. After all: only they would have the budget to give people unlimited vacation time, right?

Well let’s be very clear here – Flexible Time Off (FTO) is not the same as ‘unlimited vacation’. I know that you may have heard it reported that way in the media of late, but it really isn’t that. What FTO is really about, is giving your employees the ability to better balance their work and home life. 

In HR and society at large, we often talk about having a “work/life balance”. Well FTO can go a long way to enabling that for people. If they need to take time out to take the kids to the Doctor, take a sick day, or maybe even grab a last-minute opportunity to go skiing – they can. 

flexible time off
Volker Meyer at Pexels

This flexibility will actually result, statistically, in fewer blocks of time off being booked, than if you operated under a Paid Time Off (PTO) policy. Why? Well, a big factor is the psychology of (what I call) “Range Anxiety”. Any of you with an Electronic Vehicle (EV) will know what I’m talking about. The range in your batteries is finite, so you eek out the miles as sparingly as you can, for fear that you might not make it to a charge station in time. 

So too will your employees with their vacation time, if you operate a PTO system with them. They’ll sit on them, using them sparingly until they get to the end of the year, realise that they should have used them up and then suddenly disappear for days and days. Either that, or you’ll owe them pay for each one of those days, further down the road when they leave. 

Flexible Time Off is especially important right now, during the covid pandemic.

We all know the score and what’s going on in the world. God-willing; we’re nearing the end of restrictions, with a vaccination plan being rolled out in record time. Nevertheless, people are now more acutely aware of the need to be able to take time away from the office. They’re going to want that flexibility from their work place, that allows them to look after their families and themselves as they see fit. 

The other side of this is that, under a PTO structure; your employees are going to be more motivated to take risk. Rather than have to book sick leave, they’ll come into the office. And as we know with covid; even mild symptoms can be indicative of something more serious. Once they bring it in to the office, your whole workforce is at risk. 

Marcus Aurelius at Pexels

Much better that they have the flexibility to err on the side of caution, and allow them to work from home (if they feel up to it). That way you’re safeguarding your workforce and enabling them to stay productive. They can get seen, treated and hopefully back to full health much faster. 

They’ll also be more motivated and happy to work for you, knowing that you take their health and well-being seriously. 

So what’s the business case for Flexible Time Off then?

For starters, it’s a great recruitment tool! Especially if you’re operating in a highly competitive industry, or need to hire people with specialist skills. Showing them that they can work for you and maintain a healthy work/life balance on their own terms, will make you much more attractive to work for. 

This may sound small, but trust me: it’s not! You want every advantage you can get when it comes to attracting the best people. If it comes down to your company or then one that offers FTO; the odds are you’ll lose out. 

The other advantage over PTO is that you don’t have to carry the liability on your books. When you use a PTO system, most states require you to pay out what an employee is owed, when they leave the company. This means that you need to keep that money available, just in case they leave! 

With FTO you don’t because there is no minimum or maximum requirement of vacation. You just take it when you need it, leaving you without the need to carry a cash liability for every employee on your books. 

Karolina Grabowska at Pexels

This is crazy, I’m never going to get anything done! Employees with be taking flexible time off for months!!”

Well, let me ask you: what’s your approval process for taking time off under PTO? I bet you check performance, how many other people are off, their workload, the department’s workload, etc… It’s the same for FTO! 

You still go through the same approval process. As I say: this isn’t about employees being free to turn up when and if they want to, but it’s about not having quotas on their vacation time. 

What this means for you is you are able to reward those who are more productive, by granting them more time off. While others, who are maybe struggling more or lagging behind, can be asked to work longer and get things back on track. 

flexible time off
ThisIsEngineering at Pexels

When you place quotas on the number of days vacations someone can take, it becomes much harder to deny them the time off as well. If their team is struggling and they have days off owed to them, that they have to use or lose by a certain time: you could find yourself having to grant it to them or pay them for it!

This brings me on to the real-world ramifications of Flexible time Off.

Studies have shown that employees working under an FTO policy, actually take less time off. Why? Well because they don’t feel entitled to do so. Under PTO there is much more of a sense of needing to take vacation because it’s owed to them. When they know that, should they need it, they’ll be able to have it (subject to approval); they’re far less inclined to take it without needing it. 

“OK so I’m interested in using Flexible Time Off in my workplace, how can I go about it?”

Switching from a PTO arrangement to an FTO one is absolutely possible and highly recommended by us here at ADDA Infusion. It’s not a particularly complicated process, but it can take time simply because of the various hoops you have to jump through. 

If you’re interested in finding out more or would like guidance in transitioning your business from PTO to FTO policies: please reach out to us using our Contact Page. 

We will be happy to help you make the switch. We have done it for a large number of our clients, all of whom have started to see the benefits already. And just to show you that we put our money where our mouth is: we operate an FTO model here at ADDA Infusion ourselves!

For further reading on FTO, PTO and lots of other employee benefits – Please Click Here.

To watch the full video on this subject, featuring ADDA Infusion CEO Adam Daines, check it out below…


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