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Unlimited PTO: The Ultimate Guide

unlimited-paid-time-off

Paid time off, or PTO, can be the biggest headache for a small business owner. Tracking it, coordinating work schedules, and forget it about holiday time. Many business owners are now balking the traditional accrual or bucket PTO systems in favor of an unlimited PTO system that, ideally, will relieve them of these headaches of counting. But is unlimited PTO, also known as open PTO or flexible time off (FTO), more trouble?

In this article, we will explore:

  • What is Unlimited PTO
  • Sample Unlimited PTO Policy
  • How to Roll Out Unlimited PTO
  • What are the Pros & Cons of Unlimited PTO
  • What are the Federal Laws around Unlimited PTO
  • What are the State Laws about Unlimited PTO
  • Case Studies

So, your first question might be, “Does unlimited PTO really mean unlimited? Like as much as they want?”

Please note that unlimited PTO policies are usually only used in salaried situations where payroll and staffing needs are more stable and predictable (versus an hourly situation like a clothing store or daycare where a certain number of employees are required to make sure work goes on).

What is Unlimited PTO

Yes, “unlimited” technically means unlimited PTO, or an open vacation policy, where employees can take as many days off as they choose to or need to. Unlimited PTO is becoming increasingly popular as companies grow weary of tracking days, tracking accruals, answering requests from employees to go over (or be paid out for extra)… many business owners look at the research and case studies and decide to see what will happen. Unlimited PTO is also a very trendy recruiting tool in today’s ever competitive talent market, and it is a way for companies to differentiate themselves to millennials and Gen Z, who are increasingly picky about their benefit expectations.

However, companies usually put parameters around the “unlimitedness” of the policy in order to protect themselves (as they should), especially if they are in a state where PTO is paid out upon term or layoff. An unlimited PTO policy should also still come with guidelines on how to request time off (i.e. anything more than 16 hours or 2 days of PTO consecutively should be requested off at least 4 weeks ahead of time), and each policy should also still come with a caveat that an employer can reject a PTO request due to workload or other employees’ already having requested off.

Let’s look at a sample unlimited paid time off policy.

Sample Unlimited PTO Policy

Need help writing a time off policy or making sure yours is compliant? Get in touch

Unlimited Paid Time Off Policy

Unlike many employers with formal paid vacation, personal and paid sick-time policies, the Company has no formal policy regarding the amount of time that its salaried employees can take during a year for their absences from work. As a result, employees do not accrue vacation pay or other paid time off and this is considered an unlimited paid time off policy.

Included within the Company’s unlimited paid time off policy are paid sick days. Requests to use sick days should follow the procedure stated below. Since these days are included within this policy, they do not roll over or accrue. Please note that, even with the Chicago and California sick leave laws, if a company has an unlimited PTO policy they do not have to enact a separate paid sick leave policy. Thus, the Company does not have a separate sick leave policy.

However, attendance may be required at certain times and time off grants are still at the discretion of the Company. To request time off from work, written notice to your direct supervisor is required (email suffices as written notice). For planned PTO, such as a vacation or other known event like a wedding, advance notice of 4 weeks is recommended to ensure that PTO is likely to be approved. For unplanned instances, such as an illness or bereavement leave, notification on the day of by 8 am CST is best practice, or as soon as possible.

No single absence will be paid for more than 15 consecutive days without approval from the CEO. Paid time off for all eligible employees must be recorded in the appropriate time/attendance system.

Should your PTO request exceed 15 consecutive business days, please contact the CEO & your manager to ensure proper procedures and documentation are followed. Examples of this may include:

  • the birth and care of the newborn child of an employee;
  • placement with a child for adoption or foster care;
  • to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or
  • to take medical leave when unable to work because of a serious health condition.

Please see the individual policies on these topics for more information.

Paid Leave for salaried employees may not be used as a means to extend other types of

leave, such as FMLA, Parental, Short- or Long Term Disability, leaves required by state law, and other extended leave situations.

The Company expects all employees to maintain the high caliber of performance expected of all employees. Therefore, if performance declines because of use or abuse of the PTO policy, the Company reserves the right to review an employee’s use of PTO and take disciplinary action if necessary, up to and including termination of employment.

While employees may take time off subject to work demands and management’s discretion, they do not accrue any vacation time for purposes of payout at termination and/or payment during leaves of absence.

How to Roll Out Unlimited PTO

For this section, we will focus on HOW to actually enact an unlimited PTO policy at a high level. We will focus on the before/ composition of the policy, tips for how to roll it out, and what to do after it takes effect. Please note this isn’t a comprehensive step-by-step guide to rolling out a policy, but a rough guideline.

Let’s start from the beginning — the “before” phase.

Before You Roll Out Unlimited PTO

First and foremost, unlimited PTO requires planning. Whether you are an organization of 100 people and have an HR manager, or a small business owner doing it on your own, you need to carefully evaluate and be able to answer and consider the below questions:

  • Question 1: What would you do with the current PTO employees have accrued? How do you want to handle the people who have been “saving” up time?
      • This is a huge question- especially depending on which state your business resides in (see below table). The main questions your management and employee base will have are going to revolve around what happens to the time they have saved up. You will want to make sure you have a clear answer to this question, as well as a clear answer to how much it might cost you, before creating your unlimited PTO policy.

Our top 3 suggestions:

                • Cut checks to employees for remaining time off.
                • Give employees a reasonable period to use the accrued vacation time before the new policy takes effect.
                • Track the accrued time separately from the newly implemented vacation policy and pay the accrued balance to the employee upon termination of employment.
  • Question 2: What is the current procedure for requesting time off and how much notice in advance is required?
        • You’ll then want to consider if this still works with an unlimited policy. If you have a loosey-goosey “just text me” policy right now, you will likely want to implement more of a standard request. This could also lead to the next point:
  • Question 3: How will you track the unlimited PTO to prevent abuse and to instill trust?
        • If you were going by emails and a sloppy Excel before, you will want to consider implementing an HRIS like BambooHR or Zenefits to help you to track paid time off and keep people honest.
        • You will also want 1 or 2 “point people” to be in charge of tracking this. People will have a lot of questions and 1 person who can administer this function will be useful to make sure the policy is working.

Other questions to consider:

  • Why does unlimited PTO make sense? Can you link this new policy to your mission, vision, and values? This will be important to get your top people on board, and also when you are explaining it to the entire employee base.
  • Have you done the math? What will it cost the company to execute this policy in comparison to prior years of paid time off?
  • What are your concerns with this new policy? Listing these out for discussion with your senior people can help to show that you are carefully considering this new policy, and the team might have solutions for your concerns, which will build even more trust.

Now that you’ve answered these questions, you’ll need to create the actual policy. Use the above policy as a free template, or get in touch with our expert HR team if you’d like some customized help.

Tips for a Successful Unlimited PTO Rollout

Now that you have an actual policy, you need to roll it out. How have you rolled out policies in the past? You will want to make sure that this is organized and has clear dates for when it starts and the requirements around it. You may even consider making a 1 sheeter for each employee that states their current PTO balance, how it will be taken care of (i.e. date it needs to be used by or payout date), and a copy of the new policy.

Furthermore, in order for an unlimited PTO policy to work for your business, MammothHR suggests some tips for success:

  1. Try using a different term other than “Unlimited PTO” such as, “Personalized PTO”, “Flexible PTO”, “Self-Managed PTO”, or “Responsible PTO” to better reflect the policy.
  2. Incorporate the policy into your company’s mission, vision and company values.
  3. Emphasize the policy is a two-way street by letting employees know their personal time is valued, but they are also expected to live up to expectations and performance should not suffer.
  4. Provide clear PTO guidelines to minimize probability of a request denial (i.e. how to and the timeline for requesting PTO, as well as the right to reject it if works requires)

We would also add here that the training and communications to staff and management is KEY to the rollout of an unlimited PTO policy. Consider having several training sessions with open Q&A, as well as creating documents people can hang onto such as the policy itself, FAQs, and best practices for both employees and managers.

After the Policy is in Effect

Schedule feedback sessions for leadership for 90 days after the policy is in effect. You will want to compare days off in the prior years to this first 90 day period. It is highly likely that it will be similar or even less; however, this kind of data will be invaluable to assuage fears in leaders (and to nip abuse of the policy in the bud).

Let’s look at unlimited PTO’s potential pros and cons next.

What are the Pros & Cons of Unlimited PTO?

As with any policy, you’ll want to look at your company culture, your employee base, and assess the pros and cons of how it would impact your business operations, team, management, and bottom line prior to rolling it out. Remember, unlimited PTO is traditionally used in salaried, full time employee environments like law firms or consulting firms, versus hourly businesses where a certain volume of workers is required (i.e. a restaurant or daycare).

Let’s discuss the pros of unlimited PTO first.

Pros of Unlimited Paid Time Off

While the pros of this policy might make many business owners and HR managers nervous, the reality is that the pros and cons easily overlap with unlimited PTO. A lot of it depends on company culture and the implementation of the policy itself. For example, the pro that employees are more likely to feel valued could easily turn if the managers hold it against employees who actually take time off (“You’re asking for PTO again, Megan? Didn’t you just have a week off last month?”.

As you read through the following list of pros, notice how they parallel the cons list below it:

  • Employee happiness increases with unlimited PTO
  • Easier to attract and maintain top talent, aka makes hiring easier!
  • Company appears to be more modern, pro-employee and with changing times
  • Financial benefits to the employer include less administrative costs and sometimes even less paid time off paid out/ taken as a whole
  • Employees are more likely to feel valued by their employer
  • Sick employees are more likely to stay home and take sick days, which leads to less “everyone in marketing has the flu” issues
  • Unlimited PTO has proven to enhance morale, productivity, and employee health
  • Allows employees to balance personal/work life, which is a highly valued benefits for many Gen Z and millennial employees

Let’s now explore the downside of an unlimited PTO policy.

Cons of Unlimited Paid Time Off

Most of the cons list revolve around company culture and the implementation of the unlimited PTO policy. For example, if the policy is rolled out with little thought, managers or company leaders may be afraid of the downside (think of your VP of Sales being terrified that s/he won’t meet their quota because of Account Executives taking time off). Making sure to use data, and connecting WHY the policy is occuring, is absolutely crucial to the below cons being avoided.

Unlimited PTO can have the negative side effects of:

  • Requiring a lot of trust between employer and employee (hint: think about when you should roll this out!)
  • Risk of abuse from employees (even though data shows this is unlikely)
  • Risk of employee burnout (if they are fearful to use it or use less time off than before)
  • Transition to an unlimited PTO policy can be problematic, especially if employees have unused PTO time from the previous policy
  • Can place strain on a business is everyone wants the same time off (hint: you can mitigate this with the wording in your policy and with some simple planning!)

Aside from pros and cons, each employer should carefully review the laws around paid time off, and unlimited paid time off, prior to implementation.

What are the Federal Laws around Unlimited PTO

In the United States, paid time off has very little regulation. By FEDERAL law, as an employer, you have no obligation to give any vacation, holiday, or sick paid leave, regardless of size. The only regulation is around FMLA, the Family Medical Leave Act, for employers of 50+ full time employees (or the equivalent thereof). This law states that someone with an FMLA-approved cause can have a certain amount of unpaid time off depending on their situation and their job is protected.

State laws, on the other hand, have a lot to say about paid time off, both vacation and sick time.

What are the State Laws about Unlimited PTO

Below we have a comprehensive state table on if you were to enact an unlimited PTO policy and what you should be aware of.

However, you should also note that there are several states and cities with paid sick time policies (if you are in one of these, you should already be aware!). However, unlimited PTO can easily cover the sick time law in your city or state as long as you include wording of such in your policy (see example above).

Need help making sure your policy is compliant? Send us a message to ask about our hourly, contract-free HR consulting services.

Unlimited PTO Policy by State

State PTO Payout Policy Unlimited PTO Policy
Alabama Not required Employers may choose to offer unlimited PTO
Alaska Required only if outlined in policy Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure
Arizona Not required Employers can create their own policy if they choose to
Arkansas Required only if outlined in policy Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure
California Required to pay all accrued vacation PTO Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure
Colorado Required to pay all accrued vacation PTO Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure
Connecticut Not required Employers may choose to offer unlimited PTO
Delaware Not required Employers may choose to offer unlimited PTO
Florida Not required Employers may choose to offer unlimited PTO
Georgia Not required Employers may choose to offer unlimited PTO
Hawaii Not required Employers may choose to offer unlimited PTO
Idaho Required only if outlined in policy Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure
Illinois Required to pay all accrued vacation PTO Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure
Indiana Not required Employers may choose to offer unlimited PTO
Iowa Not required Employers may choose to offer unlimited PTO
Kansas Not required Employers may choose to offer unlimited PTO
Kentucky Not required Employers may choose to offer unlimited PTO
Louisiana Required to pay all accrued vacation PTO Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure
Maine Required only if outlined in policy Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure
Maryland Required only if outlined in policy or if policy is silent on the issue Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure
Massachusetts Required to pay all accrued vacation PTO Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure
Michigan Required only if outlined in policy or if policy is silent on the issue Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure
Minnesota Not required Employers may choose to offer unlimited PTO
Mississippi Not required Employers may choose to offer unlimited PTO
Missouri Required only if outlined in policy Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure
Montana Required to pay all accrued vacation PTO Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure, any previous vacation accrual must be paid out
Nebraska Required to pay all accrued vacation PTO Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure, any previous vacation accrual must be paid out
Nevada Not required Employers may choose to offer unlimited PTO
New Hampshire Not required Employers may choose to offer unlimited PTO
New Jersey Not required Employers may choose to offer unlimited PTO
New Mexico Not required Employers may choose to offer unlimited PTO
New York Required only if outlined in policy or if policy is silent on the issue Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure
North Carolina Required only if outlined in policy or if policy is silent on the issue Any vacation policy MUST be outlined in detail, unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure
North Dakota Required only if outlined in policy Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure; all paid leave is considered vacation unless otherwise stated
Ohio Required only if outlined in policy or if policy is silent on the issue Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure
Oklahoma Required only if outlined in policy Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure
Oregon Required only if outlined in policy or if policy is silent on the issue Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure
Pennsylvania Required only if outlined in policy Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure
Rhode Island Required as long as employee has completed at least one year of service Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure
South Carolina Required only if outlined in policy Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure
South Dakota Not required Employers may choose to offer unlimited PTO
Tennessee Required only if outlined in policy Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure
Texas Required only if outlined in policy Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure
Utah Required only if outlined in policy Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure
Vermont Required only if outlined in policy Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure
Virginia Required only if outlined in policy Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure
Washington Required only if outlined in policy Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure
West Virginia Required only if outlined in policy or if policy is silent on the issue Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure
Wisconsin Required only if outlined in policy Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure
Wyoming Required only if outlined in policy Unlimited PTO policy must outline that vacation days are not measured, therefore, not payable at departure

 

Unlimited PTO Case Studies

So what does unlimited PTO look like? While there is a lot of anecdotal evidence out there, we thought we would include 2 case studies here (if that’s your thing!).

CASE STUDY #1

Kronos Case Study

Kronos began implementing an Unlimited Vacation Policy in 2016 using a system called myTime. The roll-out of this new system was not easy and involved educating all employees on the process.The CEO of Kronos believes the old way of giving time off is outdated, especially with today’s technology many employees do not stop working when they leave the office. Employers need to focus on results over office time in order for this kind of system to work effectively.

The implementation of unlimited PTO gave Kronos a huge financial savings that they used to provide additional benefits such as increased maternity and parental leave, increased 401k matching, and tuition reimbursements. One of the big complaints from employees about unlimited PTO is that it is only implemented to help the company’s bottom line by avoiding PTO payout to employees. This was Kronos’ way of showing employees that their goal is to better the workplace, not for their own financial benefit.

Another concern about unlimited PTO is that employees will take advantage of time off or be fearful of taking too much time off with repercussions. Kronos found that employees on average took fewer days than their entitlement allowed under the old policy, and with the new unlimited PTO policy employees took only 2.65 extra days on average.

While this new policy wasn’t greeted with 100% positivity by employees, Kronos saw an increase in employee engagement and a decrease in voluntary turnover as a result of unlimited PTO. Ultimately, it may not work for every company, but it has a good chance of working as long as there is a trusting employee/employer relationship.

CASE STUDY #2

MammothHR – Small Business Case Study

MammothHR implemented a successful unlimited PTO policy. It started with a one year trial, brought on by the fact MammothHR is a small business that wants to have a vacation policy that encourages trust and allows for less red tape when taking time off.

By the end of the year trial period, unlimited PTO became the #3 most valued company benefit among employees behind health benefits and 401k. The overwhelming positive feedback over this new policy oddly had no effect on the actual number of days employees took off. It stayed roughly the same, an average of three weeks per year.

MammothHR discovered it wasn’t the time off that created the difference, but the flexibility that employees truly valued. It gave employees the ability to freely live their lives outside of work, knowing they didn’t have to stick to a rigid PTO policy. It also put trust in employees, giving them the autonomy to get their work done in the way that best suits their lifestyle.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that unlimited PTO can be an edgy, awesome and exciting benefit to offer for a business, but the caveat is that it requires more planning and rollout time than a normal “you get 15 days” policy.

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How Businesses can Bounce Back from the Least Productive Month of the Year

It’s no surprise that January is the least productive month of the year. It’s cold, dark and people are more prone to experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and it’s right after the holidays. Employees are coming back from long vacations with loved ones, holiday parties and days spent lounging and relaxing. Jumping back into working full-time takes some adjusting and with this adjustment period, productivity just isn’t what it was.

How to Increase Your Business’ Productivity After the Post-holiday Slump:

 

Assess the State of Your Business

The starting point to begin moving past a decline in productivity is understanding what specifically needs to be improved, completed or implemented. Assessing where your company is lacking or lagging will give your employees a clear vision of their role in restoring balance to your business.

Set Priorities

It can be easy for your employees to get overwhelmed with meetings, emails and phone calls, and trying to manage everything all at once can cause assignments and deadlines to fall through the cracks. By setting priorities, your team can allow themselves the mental focus to efficiently work on important goals so they can then focus on smaller assignments.

Implement Self-care and Wellness Policies

When your employees are feeling their best, this will be reflected in their work. If your employees are running on empty, not taking care of themselves or ignoring their mental and physical needs, the work they produce will also parallel that. Implementing wellness initiatives like gym memberships, a monthly wellness allowance or team fitness goals can spark a change in the work your team completes. Encouraging employees to focus on self-care habits like getting exercise and eating healthy makes a world of difference in increasing overall productivity.

Re-establish Your Mission

After all of the time spent away from the office, it’s important to get employees back on the same page about what the company’s mission and goals are. Preparing a presentation and holding a team meeting to boost morale and reaffirm the importance of what the company and employees are working toward can put productivity back into the perspective of the larger goal.

The January productivity decrease is normal and something that happens to almost every business. This doesn’t mean it’s time to panic. By following the steps above, you can manage goals and deadlines with a comprehensive plan and refreshed outlook on how to get your business back on track.

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5 Continuing Education Opportunities to Attract and Retain Top Talent

Retaining employees through team work.

Top talent is difficult to acquire. Once you have high-performing employees, it is essential to implement initiatives to maintain retention. While some may not see it as a priority, statistics show that opportunities for career development and leadership are among the most desirable company offerings. Additionally a lack of employee investment is the reason 91% of workers seek new opportunities. Offering educational opportunities to employees shows them that you are interested in helping them grow and reach their career goals. As an employer, investing in and fulfilling the needs of your top employees will be an integral part to attracting and retaining top talent.

1. Implement Training and Development Programs

High-performing employees understand the value behind training and development programs. Offering these initiatives will attract employees who are looking to improve and want to succeed, which are key qualities of top talent. Training and development programs will not only increase the quality of work, but it will also foster loyalty.

2. Provide Mentorship Opportunities

A mentorship offers many benefits to the mentored employee and the business, as the mentor will impart their good habits and best practices onto the mentee, creating another high-performing employee. The mentor will guide the new employee and offer feedback as they progress in their role. It is also a great way for an incoming staff member to learn the office landscape and to become acquainted with other employees.

3. Send Employees on Conferences

Conferences are a great way to engage employees on topics related to their role. Additionally, it is a great opportunity for them to network with other like-minded professionals. One way to increase the value of the conference is to ask the employee to report back any new practices they learned to the team.

4. Enroll Staff in Professional Courses

Many training and development programs include coursework, as they are a more formal way of learning and can be done at their desk, remotely or in-person.

5. Promote Professional Associations

Presenting employees with access to professional associations is a great way for them to remain up-to-date in their profession. It also allows them to engage outside of work with other similar professionals, and creates the opportunity to expand their network.

6. Offer Job Expansion

After a significant amount of time on the job, the role may grow stale. One way to avoid this is to give employees additional responsibilities to keep them engaged and challenged. When considering expanding an employee’s job roles, work with the individual and their supervisor to find a comfortable balance of additional responsibility.

High-performing employees feel that continued education are critical to progressing their career. Providing these opportunities to staff will show them the company values their career development. Not only will these efforts increase employee loyalty, but it will directly improve the quality of work your employees output. Investing in your employees is an investment in the company.

4 Point Consulting offers Training & Development services to help you invest in your employees.

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Wellness Programs & Team Building: What 4 Point is Up To

Wellness Programs & Team Building: What 4 Point is Up To

At 4 Point Consulting (4 Point), one of our central beliefs is that people are the core of every business. That is why we take a comprehensive approach to wellness. Christy Hopkins, the Founder and CEO of 4 Point, incorporates wellness into the everyday life of her team members. This should come as no surprise given her background. Over the course of her career, Christy realized she wanted to merge her love of business with her love of helping and supporting people. Lucky for her employees and clients, this love does not exclude them.

4 Point recognizes the demands of the consulting lifestyle and the challenge employees can face to strike a balance between life and work. This is why she began to incorporate wellness and team building exercises during the tail end of 2017. But what does Christy do to foster a culture of collaboration, teamwork, and cohesiveness amongst our group of remote workers? Let’s take a look at the support she offers our team.

Our wellness initiative follows a holistic view that respects all areas of employee life. So far, we have enjoyed a variety of team building activities that reduce stress, promote mindfulness, and build resilience. These activities include hosted lunches, off-site socials, yoga, pilates, boxing, interval training classes, and barre workouts. And if you think it ends there, we have news for you! Each employee’s compensation package includes wellness reimbursement to help lead a healthy lifestyle. All of these initiatives result in employees feeling truly cared for and translates into the quality of our service. But enough about us! How can you nurture wellness to support your employees? Let’s first talk about what wellness is and how team building can help your organization.

WELLNESS PROGRAMS & TEAM BUILDING

Multiple organizations have followed the trend of offering team building activities and implementing wellness programs. In fact, according to a survey administered by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), approximately 25% of companies increased their wellness benefits between the years of 2006 and 2017. In this article, we will provide insight on what you need to know about wellness and team building to improve your organization:

  1. What is wellness and team building?
  2. How can wellness programs and team building improve the life of your employees?
  3. What kind of activities can promote wellness?
  4. How can you incorporate wellness into your organization?

WHAT IS WELLNESS?

The term wellness not only refers to the absence of illness. It also refers to maintaining your body in good condition, with proactive and preventive measures. With this in mind, organizations have been taking wellness to a higher level by adopting a more holistic view that treats the employee as a whole person. This all encompassing wellness approach considers the physical, social, mental, and emotional needs of employees and provides support so they can overcome and/or prevent issues related to the four aforementioned needs.

The degree to which wellness is integrated into employees’ day-to-day life varies across organizations, and so do their benefits. On an organizational level, these benefits include increased productivity, lower healthcare costs, and higher retention. However, in this article we are going to shift our focus to explore how employees and teams benefit from wellness programs. Wellness programs are intended to improve the health of the workforce by helping employees perform at their peak as individual contributors and as members of a team, and one way to do that is through team building exercises.

WHAT IS TEAM BUILDING?

Team building has become a hot topic in recent years and for good reasons. The success of most organizations depends on their ability to build effective teams. Team building activities are a great way to provide realistic experiences that empower employees to contribute to common goals. Programs or activities that foster team-building provide an upbeat and powerful team experiences that allow companies to compete effectively by enabling their employees at all levels to work as true team players.

The main goals of team building are to improve productivity and motivation. Structured exercises, especially when done outside of the workplace, help break down political and personal barriers, eliminate distractions, and not only encourage individual development but also brings all members together for a common goal.

Team building exercises are important not for the immediate experience of the activities performed by the team, but also for the group skills, communication, and bonding that result from them. Team building exercises work to boost a company’s bottom line, reform a company’s culture, and also have many wellness benefits for individual employees.

HOW CAN WELLNESS PROGRAMS AND TEAM BUILDING IMPROVE THE LIFE OF YOUR EMPLOYEES?

Team building and wellness programs can improve the lives of employees in the following four areas: physical, social, emotional, and mental.

Referring to things that are of nature or the body, physical wellness:

  • Allows employees to release and manage their stress.
  • Instills healthy habits to create a better lifestyle.
  • Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol.

Having to do with employees working together as a group, social wellness:

  • Encourages communication by breaks down communication barriers.
  • Allows employees to develop and discover their strengths.
  • Increases collaboration.
  • Gives employees the ability to draw on and develop team process skills to complete group-oriented tasks successfully.
  • Mitigates conflict.

When it comes to employees’ internal state of being and involuntary physiological responses, emotional wellness:

  • Builds organizational trust.
  • Fosters engagement.

Related to employees’ ability to cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and fruitfully, and make contributions to the workplace, mental wellness:

  • Gives employees time and tools to develop skills.
  • Promotes creativity.
  • Encourages mission focused behaviors.

WHAT KIND OF ACTIVITIES CAN PROMOTE WELLNESS?

Exercise classes.

Provide opportunities for your employees to try running, yoga, pilates, boxing, barre,…you name it! Choose something unique and slightly outside of people’s comfort zones can encourage teams to come together in new ways.

Hosted lunches.

Host an on-site or off-site lunch for your work team, department, or the entire company. This can give coworkers the chance to unwind and get to know each other outside of the work environment.

Professional development activities.

Create opportunities for development where employees can share their learning experiences and have the opportunity to discuss their newly acquired knowledge and skills, and how these can be applied at work. Taking employees to an off-site training workshop or conference fosters learning and provides an opportunity for employees to interact.

Hobby clubs.

Encourage employees to form clubs, such as a book, article, or podcast club. Employees can take turns leading discussions about articles, chapters, or podcast episodes, the implications of what they are learning, and how it applies to the company and their work. This can encourage cross-departmental interaction and allow employees to share different viewpoints and gain a better understanding of each department’s contribution to the company’s overall goal.

Volunteer opportunities.

Pay it forward by having a volunteer day or afternoon once a quarter. This gives employees the opportunity to give back and learn about the community they are in and how to serve them. Companies can also partner with a local charity or nonprofit organization and generate volunteering opportunities internally by offering resume building workshops, tech courses, or various other activities.

HOW CAN YOU INCORPORATE WELLNESS INTO YOUR ORGANIZATION?

Ask employees what they want.

Survey employees to learn about their interests in health promotion and related activities. Involving them in this process can increase participation and the sustainability of the program.

Make it convenient, practical, and accessible.

It is important that wellness facilities and activities are readily accessible. You and the company leaders should encourage employees to take a break during the day, use the gym, go for a walk, or attend a yoga class.

Integrate wellness into the company structure by leading from the top.

Make sure to have buy-in from the top before launching your program and have management lead by example during the program. Provide training for managers on new wellness initiatives so they can best understand and communicate them.

Make the program a key focus by incentivizing employees.

Advertise the benefits constantly to make the program a part of your corporate culture and provide ongoing incentives for employees to care about becoming healthier. This could be a small monetary incentive, a raffle for a fitness tracker or gym pass, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) membership, etc.

Invest in the program.

While companies do not have to spend an excessive amount on trips or experiences, they should not skimp either. Some low cost ideas include offering flexible work arrangements, coordinating volunteering days, and arranging group socials.

The Final Word

In all, team building activities and wellness programs can maximize profitability by allowing employees to better combine their skills to achieve more, meet cross-functional challenges, and be able to respond quicker to rapid change. Implementing a wellness program and having regular team building activities will instill a greater sense of involvement and belonging in your employee population. It will also empower teams to become more mission focused and achieve more with less direction. By investing in your employees, you will make your organization a place where they want to be, saving time and money.

We encourage you to follow these tips to transform and engage your organization. Work towards sustaining them and you will see the results!

Be on the lookout for Glamour Magazine’s April issue to find an article on mental health in the workplace by 4 Point’s Founder and CEO, Christy Hopkins!

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20 Gifts Small Business Owners Can Afford to Give for the Holidays

20 Gifts Small Business Owners Can Afford to Give for the Holidays

As the holiday season approaches, we’ve assembled a list of ideas for the best, most unique and personal gifts to give to your clients or employees with cost in mind. Small business owners, read on to shake up your holiday gratitude gift ideas:

7 BEYOND KNICK-KNACK GIFTS

Want a real actual gift you can wrap? Here are some gift ideas that are both affordable and meaningful for your clients or employees.

Multi-Port Rechargeable Power Banks 

Most of us rely on at least 2-3 electronic devices during the workday, and a rechargeable power bank can come in handy in busy times or times of desperation. These are excellent to have around the office to loan out to delivery drivers, during meetings, business travel, presentations,  lunches, etc. Check out the top rated Rechargeable Power Banks and consider giving this as a useful gift.

Personalized Stationery, Post-It’s, etc.

Personalized paperwork can be fun for both a client or employee. It’s easy to order personalized stationery online, we recommend using Shutterfly. They are top rated, and are almost always running a promotion, saving you a few bucks along the way.

Calendars

There are many ways to purchase calendars: themed (how well do you know your client?), personal planners,  large, small, hanging, tear away, personalized. A quick trip to your local bookstore will yield dozens of calendar options, but if you’re looking for something unique or personalized check out Zazzle.

Electronic Notepad

What’s an electronic notepad, you ask? This trendy, helpful tool is equipped with an LCD screen that allows you to sketch down ideas, notes and drawings by hand and upload them directly to your computer via USB. The most popular and highest rated LCD Notepad is the Boogie Board.

Essential Oil Diffuser

Oil diffusers are the popular, safe and enviro-friendly alternative to burning candles. Not only are they less hazardous, but they also improve moisture in the air, provide ambiance, and some say essential oils have health benefits that go beyond simply smelling lovely.  Be sure to include a few essential oils with your gift, in case they don’t have any. You can usually find oil diffusers at big box stores like Target.

Desk Golf

Not only will this provide a good chuckle, it’s great decoration for your client or employee’s desk and is another healthy way to spend screen breaks or entertain guests. You can purchase Desk Golf at Uncommon Goods.

Custom-Made Bobble Heads

A hilarious way to build rapport and express your sense of humor. At AllMiniMe.com, the bobble heads can be customized and themed to fit your client or employee’s interests and hobbies, but don’t delay! They typically recommend ordering 2-3 weeks in advance.

Maybe you want something more outside the box than a typical wrapped gift? No problem!

5 GIFTS THAT ARE A LITTLE DIFFERENT

Artwork

Perhaps you noticed a few blank spaces on the walls the last time you visited your client or had a meeting in your employee’s office? Or maybe there’s a popular artists in town you know they’d love… Artwork is a very personal gift, so do your research and find something that speaks to you and would speak to them. This is also a great opportunity to support the arts!

In-Office Yoga and Meditation Classes

Many companies are adding midday yoga classes as a part of their employee benefits packages. For advice on hiring a great teacher for your own business or for a client’s, call around to your local yoga studios – most of the time they will provide someone lovely they have on staff AND take care of logistics. It’s a win-win!

Charitable Donation in their honor

‘Tis the season for giving, after all. Why not use this opportunity to show your client or employees your altruistic side and make a donation in their honor? The best giftable donation is something that speaks personally to your client, yourself, or the current times.

Magazine Subscription

Almost every industry has a themed magazine, and not only are they a great resource and go-to  – they are also a great way to entertain visitors, and are helpful for staying engaged and motivated during much needed  “screen breaks.” When in doubt, a subscription to Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, or something local to the recipient’s City or Town are all safe ideas.

Career-Focused Books

There’s no better way to stay at the top of your game with an ambitious and empowering read, adn the same goes for your employees and clients. Here’s a list of the “15 Most Inspirational Books for Entrepreneurs,” (you’ll be happy to know they aren’t ALL non-fiction).

Want something more traditional? Don’t forget about the tried and true gifts like:

8 OLD FAVORITE GIFTS

Gift Baskets

Gift baskets are a common gift during the holidays, and are great for sending to small businesses in the sense that there is truly a little something for everyone, whether it’s for your own people or your client’s people. The best way to give a gift basket (in our opinion) is to contact a local favorite whether it’s a bakery, artisan shop, etc. and have something familiar and special prepared.

Fruit of the Month Club

This is a modern-twist on the classic fruit basket. We recommend The Fruit Company, who has everything from exotic, americana, to organic and fresh fruit delivered monthly.

Plants

Plants improve air quality and ambiance, and are something the entire office can enjoy. Be sure to do your research and pick a plant that can survive in an office setting. Here’s a list of the best office plants for reference.

Catered Breakfast, Lunch, or Dessert

What better way to show your appreciation than surprise bagel delivery on a Monday morning to your client’s office? You might want to tip off someone what’s coming though so that someone is there to receive it. Or get a little more creative and think of a dessert or hot chocolate delivery.

Go Have Some Fun

Treating your client (and perhaps his/her team) or your own team to a local sporting event, concert, or other bonding activity outside the office is not only a great gift – it’s a great way to establish rapport, and can also show that you value team building in the workplace.

Snack Nation

Snack Nation provides a variety of snacks for up to 15 employees on a one-time, weekly or monthly basis. Your client’s sweet tooth will thank you! : www.SnackNation.com

Coffee Shop Gift Cards

A tried and true gift, and a traditional way of expressing gratitude. Load enough on the card that your client or your employee can treat themselves properly!

A Sincere, Hand-Written Card

At the end of the day, the best way to express your gratitude to a client or employee is by taking the time to write to them personally. Be sure to thank them for investing in your endeavors, believing in you, and let them know you look forward to the growth that lies ahead.

In conclusion, you certainly do not have to give gifts to your clients or employees, but it can be a nice way to stand out and share the love this holiday season.

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Open Enrollment Ends December 15th! Here’s What You Should Know

Open Enrollment Ends December 15th! Here’s What You Should Know

Tis the season for Open Enrollment! With a shortened enrollment period, take the next few weeks to learn about new benefits and maximize your family’s health care plan and financial well-being. Here are a few things you should know:

1. SHORTER DEADLINE…MOVE QUICK!

Open enrollment began November 1st and ends December 15th, a span that lasts a mere 45 days and is your only chance to apply for 2018 coverage. Beat the rush and apply today: Healthcare.gov.

2. PENALTIES, FEES, AND EXEMPTIONS

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is still law, and you may still have to pay a penalty if you don’t purchase coverage in 2018. Also, be mindful while shopping for insurance plans – many websites and providers are not ACA approved and purchasing one of these plans will still result in a fee come tax time. There are, however,  certain exemptions based on household income, to learn more visit: https://www.healthcare.gov/exemptions-tool/#/

3. SHOPPING FOR THE BEST INSURANCE PLAN

Marketplace premiums are increasing 27% on average in most states, but the government is offering higher subsidies to offset the rising costs. Being that silver plans are experiencing the highest hikes, this may mean you can upgrade to a gold or platinum plan at no or little additional cost to you. Shop around! We can’t say this enough.

4. PRICES CHANGES AND AUTO-RENEWAL

Speaking of shopping around…If you don’t intend to change your plan, be sure to review any price hikes and subsidy changes before the enrollment period ends on December 15th. Plans are set to auto-renew on December 16th, 2017 and with the price increases and subsidy changes – you wouldn’t want to get locked into the wrong plan for an entire year!

Have questions? Ask us at hello@4pointconsulting.com.

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Paternity Leave Policy- Best Practices & How to Administer a Policy

Paternity Leave

Paternity leave, and family leave in general, is a hot topic these days as work/life balance, work/life integration, and other buzzwords float around that try to support Americans in their quest for both work and a family.

Check out Christy’s full advice here in her work with Fit Small Business on everything you need to know about paternity policies as a small business owner or HR manager- from a policy template to how to administer one and what other business owners are doing.