October 22, 2019

4 Types of Time Off You Should Negotiate Over PTO

by Scott Thompson

Conventional thinking about Paid Time Off (i.e. vacation, sick, and personal days) is that you want as much as you can get.  That means for many people, their PTO allotment determines job satisfaction, career changes, and compensation negotiations. However, the trouble with a traditional definition of PTO is that it does not represent the changing times, both in the way workers value and utilize vacation. According to Business News Daily (July 2019):

  • 68% of workers left unused vacation time on the table
  • On average, Americans with a yearly allowance of 14 days only used 10 days
  • People with unlimited PTO took even less paid time off than people with standard vacations

Time off is an amazing perk that should be integrated into your professional life on a weekly basis, not just 2-3 weeks/year. If you agree, then I encourage you to renegotiate your time off. Don’t focus on annual PTO allotment but instead on less time in the office, on a more frequent basis, that supports your emotional, physical, and mental wellbeing.

1. Flex Time

What You Want: 1-2 hours available weekly or monthly to be used at your discretion without draining from a PTO allotment.

One of the stupidest policies I’ve ever encountered was at a previous job.  If I needed to take an hour off to go to the doctor, I was forced to take either a half day or a full day.  There was no option for me to just take an hour.  This means that if I had a doctor’s appointment that only lasted ½ an hour I would need to take a half day at the least.  Compounding this, I only got five days off a year for my first two years.  What a waste! Instead of negotiating more vacation, work with your employer to define scenarios that apply to a Flex Time policy.

2. Working From Home

What You Want: The flexibility to seamlessly transition between home and the office.

Work @ Home policies aren’t 100% or 0%. In fact, according to Forbes (July 2019 Four Ways To Keep Employee Retention High In the Age of Low Unemployment) over 70% of Americans work at least 1 day/week at home. Imagine the welcome break from a long commute, the ability to catch up on laundry, to schedule the HVAC contractor for a seasonal repair, and greeting the kids when they get home from school?

One day is 20% of your work week. Not only could you get more work done without a lot of interruptions from people coming into your office, but show your employer how it’s a great business contingency plan during the winter months!

3. Adapted Schedule

What You Want: To work during your most productive hours of the day.

What if you could go to work at 6:00 AM and leave at 3:00?  What if you had the ability to work four ten-hour days and take Friday off?  What if you could skip your lunch and leave at 4:00? Another great Forbes Article (Why the 8-Hour Workday Doesn’t Work) bluntly states the 8 am-5pm workday is outdated, ineffective, and inefficient. 

Describe how you structure your days. Be self-aware what system makes you most or least productive. Employers are good at requesting extra hours, but the issue isn’t volume. It’s individuality. Craft what works for better you so you can work best for them!

4. 3-Day Weekends

What You Want: Accounting for peak seasons where time off isn’t an option.

Insurance, much like accounting and retail, is a service industry. January 1st renewals are a well-known nightmare for anyone working in employee benefits and financial services. Most people simply cannot request vacation time meaning no matter your PTO bank you only have 8-9 months out of a calendar year to get a break rather than a full 12 months.

Find ways to created abbreviated work schedules throughout the year. This can be every Friday in the summer off. This can be shortened schedules per quarter that rotate among the office’s team. Yes, you may work 70-90 hours/week between October 1st-December 31st, but between April and July you’re leaving no later than 2 pm every day.

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