October 9, 2023

Navigating the New Norm: How to Determine Your Ideal PTO Package

by Chris Winterboer

When I started recruiting more than two decades ago, PTO packages were a simple formula. New employees got very little to no PTO. Experienced professionals received more but were subject to long, new hire waiting periods. I distinctly remember one client refusing to give more than two weeks, and if someone asked for more the offer was rescinded on the spot.

Thankfully that is no longer the norm. Insurance organizations are far more generous with PTO. I consistently see three weeks PTO for all new hires, and many more carriers and brokers embracing unlimited PTO plans. The only sticking point at this moment in time is whether flexible work schedules impact paid time off allotments. It’s a fair question for job seekers coming out of the pandemic. Does the company you’re interviewing with consider work-from-home time a replacement for the PTO amount you should receive?

This brings us to the question of this blog – how do you even begin to know how much PTO to ask for these days? There are four main concepts to bear in mind if you get to this point in an interview process.

1) Always ask what the company's current plan is.

Don’t start with any demands on your end. No employer of decent size is going to make an exception that lands too far away from what they would consider the “norm”. Which also means that if this is an important part of your offer, ask this question early. Also consider what else is important about the opportunity – culture, benefits, salary, career growth, etc.

2) If you do ask for exceptions, be specific.

Something I have often seen negotiated is the week between Christmas and New Year’s. While Q4 is a busy time for many employers in the insurance industry, by the time Christmas rolls around, things are usually pretty wrapped up. If they aren’t, you probably have bigger problems. Another example would be current or upcoming life events. Sometimes candidates have a big pre-planned vacation coming up, and that can be an exception. Sometimes paid, sometimes not, but always considered. Or a wedding/marriage in the family that is coming up. Any big event that is a one-time occurrence is something most employers will consider with flexibility.

3) Ask in context with what you have now.

Using fact and logic will always be recommended when I am involved with any kind of negotiation. If you currently have five weeks of PTO and the new employer offers only three, that is an incredibly valid reason to ask for more. The more details you can provide, the better off your case is. The fact of the matter is that very few employees take off more than five weeks, even if they have that as a current PTO plan.

4) Learn how the overall PTO program ties into holidays and schedules.

Some clients we work with are bringing employees back to the office from fully remote and hybrid situations, but are doing so methodically. For instance, some will give Fridays off during the summer months or allow for much more flexibility with schedules during the summers or slow times. The more information you have from the entire landscape, the better armed you are to negotiate, if it is even necessary at that point.


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