I have unlimited PTO at my company, but I'm not sure how much I can/should reasonably take. Any advice on this? How much do you take?
Hi, I hope you're well! Thanks for asking this question!
It's great that you have the flexibility of unlimited PTO at your company, but I understand the dilemma you're facing right now. Deciding how much PTO to take can be a bit tricky with this type of policy.
Here are some of the top considerations / actions to take when thinking about taking PTO.
Understand your company culture: Don't follow this too strictly, but just looking at your company's norms and how often formally/informally people take time off, should help give you an idea.
Plan PTO around your workload: I try to plan my PTO in advance for every quarter planning so that I don't take time off during critical times, and so that my manager also is aware. This will also help you out because you can realistically set expectations including the time off.
Maintain Balance: Prioritize your mental heath. If you don't feel well, let your manager know and take some time off.
Avoid Burnout: Don't hesitate to take time off when needed to prevent burnout. This hasn't happened to me yet, but I know several people who have fully revitalized by just taking a week or two off.
PS: Please keep in mind that these are just my personal approaches, and they've served me well. I'm open to hearing other suggestions as I'd like to learn more about this topic!
Generally there's an unspoken limit of 16 days, but how strictly unspoken limits are enforced are highly dependent on the company culture around PTO (e.g. if everyone else is taking 20 days off a year, you should too) and your current performance in the company (if you're at least meeting expectations, PTO is less scrutinized). Your manager and your teammates would likely have a pretty good pulse on this, so I'd look to ask them to guage more specifics.
"Unlimited" PTO is one of the biggest conundrums in the industry (and it's often a scam sadly to save the company money). There are 2 types of companies with this kind of PTO policy:
Figure out which bucket your company falls into by observing the vibe, taking note of how much PTO your teammates take, and understanding the disposition of your manager.
If your company is bucket #1, you should honestly probably leave.
If your company is in bucket #2, just request whatever PTO you need, especially if you're feeling tinges of burnout. This will work better if your manager is good and you're a solid to high performer as Jonathan mentioned.
Here's some other great discussions around work-life balance in general: