A few years ago, Integrity changed its paid time off (PTO) policy.
We’d been using a pretty traditional model: employees got a set amount of use-it-or-lose-it PTO that could be used for vacation, illness, errands, doctor’s appointments, flash mobs, you name it. The longer you worked here, the more PTO you accrued.
There was just one problem.
“We like to remove anything that conflicts with our core craft of design and development solutions. We came to realize worrying about PTO was one of those things,” said Partner and Chief Creative Officer Ed Morrissey.
What if an employee used up his PTO on sick days and medical appointments but still wanted to take a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to France? What if an employee started working at Integrity July 1 but already had a weeklong family vacation planned later that month?
“The answer was always yes,” Morrissey said. “Even when we had a traditional PTO policy, we were often frustrated trying to uphold it. In my mind I always wanted to address that in some way.”
And that’s what we did. We threw out the old policy and implemented an open PTO policy.
With open PTO, employees can take time off whenever and for whatever. You can go to the dentist and to Europe and not lose sleep over whether you've accrued enough PTO for both.
There’s no formal process for requesting PTO, either. All we require is that employees over-communicate with their project teammates and clients about their vacation plans. As soon as you know about upcoming time off, get it on your Google calendar, send frequent reminders to your colleagues and have a plan in place for getting your work done before you leave.
So, was the switch to open PTO a recipe for disaster – empty offices, nobody knowing where anybody is?
Actually, it hasn’t had much of an effect on the Integrity team’s vacation habits, according to Morrissey. And that’s not too surprising.
Integrity’s culture, from the free beer in our fridge to our holacratic management structure, puts accountability squarely on the individual employee, and we only hire people who can thrive in that environment. There’s little room for abuse, simply because our highly collaborative nature makes it nearly impossible to get away with. If you constantly miss deadlines or turn in crappy work because you’re always using PTO, you won’t last long here.
Another reason open PTO hasn’t affected our company-wide vacationing is because Integrity strives to maintain “an environment you don’t have to escape from,” Morrissey said. Integrity wants employees to take a vacation for the experience, not because they have to get away from work to preserve their sanity.
“We prefer to hire people who make solid decisions, and if you have to have a policy in place for folks to do what's right, you have the wrong type of employees” Morrissey said. “[Our philosophy is] you make the right decision about your PTO.”
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