Loving what you do doesn’t mean you should do it until you drop dead at your desk. And in the startup world, it can be especially tough for cultural perks like unlimited vacation to jibe with the hard reality of covering absences on a lean team.
But these four Austin tech companies pull it off, defying the cynical stigma that unlimited vacation is the kind you never get to take. Here are their paid time off policies, the reasons they chose them and some insight on how they work.
Their PTO policy: Full-time employees accrue a certain number of PTO hours every pay period. Your accrual rate increases incrementally with each year you spend at the company.
In addition to the standard PTO offered to employees, OutboundEngine provides the entire company with two additional weeks of PTO for winter holiday. At the end of December, the office closes for two weeks, and employees are free to take leave and enjoy a relaxing two week break.
Why they chose it: OutboundEngine believes that employees should have opportunities to enjoy time away from work to help balance their lives. OutboundEngine recognizes that employees have diverse needs for time off from work and established this PTO policy to meet those needs. The benefits of PTO are that it promotes a flexible approach to time off.
How it works: Employees are accountable and responsible for managing their own PTO hours to allow for adequate reserves for their needs. Employees request their PTO through Paycom and an email goes to their primary supervisor for approval and then feeds to payroll. It’s quick, easy and seamless.
How it’s going: Social Specialist Kedzie Teller told us so far, employees love the policy and feel it provides wonderful work-life balance.
Their PTO policy: All full-time, salaried team members have unlimited vacation as long as they still meet their goals each quarter. All full-time hourly team members get 21 paid vacation days per year.
Why they chose it: Hourly members have a set quantity of PTO only because of the overtime-non-exempt structure of their compensation. CEO Blake Garrett explained it’s not designed to limit anyone.
“We found 21 days was way above average,” he said. “And even the salaried people haven’t gone over that.”
How it works: Aceable People Lead Geni Glynn explained it this way: “If you’re going to be out of the office as a full-time, salaried team member you have to put it on our out-of-office calendar, discuss it with your team lead ahead of time and get your work done (or delegated) before you leave,” she said. "Same goes for hourly team members, except if they’re on the customer experience team, they have to make sure the schedule works out and not too many people are out at the same time.
There is no request form. It’s all discussed between team member and team lead."
How it’s going: “If this kind of policy is going to work, it has to start with leadership,” Garrett said. “I’m actually on vacation right now — you’re the only work-related call I’m taking all day.”
Garrett also explained the company’s workload ebbs seasonally, with demand peaking while students are on summer break and tapering off when they go back to school in September. So employees typically enjoy more time off in the fall.
Their PTO policy: Totally open.
Why they chose it: “We’re all adults and have different needs for time off,” said Technical Recruiter Katelyn Parker. “We trust our employees to do the work and take the time they need.”
How it works: “An employee consults their Project Manager and schedules the time on a team calendar,” Parker said. “It’s as simple as that!”
How it’s going: “It seems to be working pretty well,” Parker said. "We’re project based, so time off needs to be worked out around each project’s needs.
“I think that depends on the person. I, for example, check my email twice a day on most vacations, just to keep work from piling up when I get back.”
Their PTO policy: Reps from Sprinklr told us the vacation guidelines for Sprinklrites are flexible to enable employees to schedule vacation time as needed.
Why they chose it: “At Sprinklr, employees are encouraged to take vacation,” communications intern Katie Koerper said. “Flexible vacation allows them to renew, reinvigorate, and rejuvenate — essential elements for leading a happy and healthy life.”
How it works: Most Sprinklrites take around three to four weeks of vacation per year. In requesting vacation, employees need to gain approval from Sprinklr Leaders to ensure their responsibilities are adequately covered during their time off.
All requests for time off are submitted through Sprinklr’s HRIS system. Employees are asked to submit their requests with as much notice as possible, so that leaders can schedule accordingly.
How it’s going: “Sprinklr is lucky to have talented, dedicated people who passionately care,” Koerper said. “The People & Places team often encourages Sprinklrites to unplug so they can stay fresh and continue to enjoy what they do.”