HR Answers: It’s Time to Evaluate Your Time-Off Policy

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By Dave Berndt

4 minutes

A PTO program tailored to your organization’s needs can serve as a recruitment tool and show your employees you care.

With the end of the school year and the official start of summer right around the corner, many organizations are bracing for an inevitable rush of vacation requests. As employees start to take more days off than during much of the rest of the year, you will have a good view of how your time-off policy is being utilized—and the best way to revise it, if needed. 

Two of the most common time-off policies credit unions use are a traditional time off policy and a general PTO policy. The traditional time-off policy separates leave into two different categories: vacation and sick time. With a general paid time-off policy, the reason for taking time off work is irrelevant. Employees can use their PTO when they are sick, going on vacation, taking care of a sick child or just because they need a break from work.

Deciding what kind of policy works best for your credit union is easy: The key is to have a policy that shows your employees you appreciate them, while also keeping your business needs covered.

Take a look at your current policy and consider how it’s being utilized. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Are your employees taking more time off than they have available? Are they using vacation time to cover their illnesses or to take care of sick children? 
  • Do you offer time off all at once at the beginning of the year or on hiring anniversaries? Would an accrual system suit your business better?
  • If you currently offer sick and vacation separately, what would the costs be for changing to a general PTO policy?
  • Does your current policy adhere to the local and federal regulations for mandatory leave?
  • If you offer carry-over PTO days, are your employees taking enough time off during the year?
  • If you are a multi-office or multi-branch credit union, what regulations might differ between locations?

General PTO policies can be attractive to both current and potential employees. Employees feel more at ease taking time off when they don’t feel like they have to account for what they are doing with their time away from the office. If your credit union touts work-life balance, offering a general PTO policy could show your employees you really mean what you say. 

The last point in the list above also warrants additional consideration. If your credit union has multiple locations, do you have employees who work at more than one location? Tracking PTO for shared employees can be challenging without clearly defined accrual and usage policies. And if your credit union is regulated by more than one local or state jurisdiction, ensuring you are in compliance might also be more difficult without a clear understanding of the applicable regulations. Consult with your employment law counsel or HR outsourcing provider when considering a revision to your policies.

If you do decide to implement changes to your PTO policy, make sure your employees are in the loop and on board by addressing these three areas:

Communication is the key to success. 

Consistent communication throughout the process of analyzing and implementing a new policy is crucial. Before rolling out a new policy, make sure all managers are notified and understand the updates well enough to explain them to their employees. Clear communication of the timeline, associated costs and what the changes will mean to the organization as a whole will help ensure your employees are satisfied with the new policy.

Perception is important.

Once you have done the research and created your new PTO policy, remember that some employees might be worried that they’ll be getting less time off than they previously had—even if that’s not actually the case. Make it a priority to proactively address these misconceptions during the rollout of the new policy. Infographics or examples that demonstrate the comparison between the time they had before and what they are getting now may help ease some of these concerns.

Make sure your policy is clearly stated. 

Any confusion about how your new policy might be interpreted during the introductory phase will only cause grief further down the line. It’s essential to update your employee handbook with the new policy so there is no confusion for current employees or future new hires. Any emails, internal memos or other documents that address time off policies should be written clearly and with consistent language.

With summer on the horizon, now is a great time to review your time off policy. Even if you ultimately decide not to make changes, you will be able to move forward knowing your benefits are suited to your credit union and have been communicated properly to your team.cues icon

Dave Berndt is senior client advocate and senior HR advisor at G&A Partners, Houston. 

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