At the beginning of 2016, Kronos rolled out an unlimited vacation program for employees in the US and Canada we call myTime. The objectives of the myTime program are to support Kronos' commitment to being a great place to work; promote an inspired culture that attracts and retains great employees; and thereby delivers great results to our customers. Before myTime, there were specified categories and numbers of paid time off (PTO) days that employees could use each year. Post myTime, days off for vacation, sick time, personal time, floating holidays, volunteer hours, and bereavement are consolidated into one myTime category.
The rollout of this program was a significant undertaking. Both managers and employees needed to be educated about how to negotiate time off in a world where there were no longer one-size-fits-all PTO entitlements. Both managers and employees needed to be able to have direct conversations about how the employee's request for time off could be managed within the needs of the business. Almost 2 years later, the myTime program has been well adopted at Kronos.
In fact, this program has drawn a lot of attention from HR leaders who are considering whether and how to roll out a program like this for their organizations. Our story has been shared in the Harvard Business Review and other leading publications. If you are considering a program like this, we are happy to share some of the insights we've gained during the last two years based on the questions we are asked most frequently about myTime:
How do you get any work done? It seems like people might take advantage of a program like this.
Before myTime, most Kronos employees in the US and Canada were not using all of their allotted PTO each year. In fact, the average employee used fewer days than s/he was entitled to each year. Since the program was rolled out, we've found the average person takes just 2.65 more days per year than s/he was taking before.
What do you consider to be the key driver that makes this program work?
According to our CEO, Aron Ain, "You can't even think about making a change like this unless you have fundamental trust in the people who work for you." A program like this works when leaders focus on results vs. face time.
How does this program impact the cost of employee PTO?
Making this change does do away with the need to accrue a leave liability. Many companies who've made this change have opted to drop this savings to their bottom line. We made the decision to reinvest those savings in other employee benefits. So in addition to offering an open vacation policy, we increased maternity leave, parental leave, and adoption leave; we increased the 401(k) match; we created a scholarship program for employees' children; we launched a child care assistance program; and we began contributing up to $500 a year toward employees' student loans.
How did you train managers to manage this program and these employee conversations?
Managers were given training about the program before it was rolled out to employees, starting with an announcement from our Chief People Officer, Dave Almeda. This communication directed people managers to a library of resources including video and mandatory training. HR business partners supported the roll out by coaching managers as needed.
How did employees react?
Not all employees immediately initially embraced this change. Some were concerned their managers would deny them vacation if there wasn't a prescriptive policy. Some managers had difficulty saying no when there wasn't a hard and fast rule to rely on. Both sides have needed to learn to have time off conversations in the context of the needs of the business, the needs of the employee, and the performance level of the employee.
How has this program impacted employee engagement and retention?
One year after we launched myTime, engagement rose to 87% (from 84% the prior year). Year over year, our voluntary turnover dropped from 6.4% to 5.6%. Anecdotally, we're seeing positive comments on sites like Glassdoor and hearing from job candidates that this is a differentiating benefit.
How do you continue to educate employees about myTime?
All new hires in the US and Canada are walked through this presentation that explains the basics of the program and where to find more information on the Kronos intranet. You can download this presentation by clicking on its title below. Then you can view the voiceover notes that explain each slide.
How can I learn more about the Kronos myTime program?
If you have questions about the Kronos myTime program, please submit them by commenting on this post below and we'll do our best to get back to you in a timely fashion. You may also want to listen to this podcast in which I talk to Kronos Chief People Officer Dave Almeda and Sharlyn Lauby (the HR Bartender) about the program.
Additional resources you may find helpful:
Kronos CEO Aron Ain discusses unlimited time off with Harvard Business Review (podcast and transcript of the podcast)
Aron Ain discusses Kronos unlimited time off program and results on National Public Radio
Forbes interview with Aron Ain about Kronos culture
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