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How Would an Unlimited Vacation Policy Work in Your CPA Firm?


After this crazy, compressed tax season, you and your employees are certainly ready and deserve a vacation. But do you give your employees enough vacation time? How much paid vacation time is enough? Can you imagine that the answer might someday be “as much as they want?” Some companies are shifting toward an unlimited vacation policy because they believe it can enhance morale and minimize stress. Although only 1% of organizations offer unlimited paid time off, according to a Society for Human Resource Management survey, it is surprisingly most often used at smaller organizations. There are a number of advantages to offering unlimited vacation time in your CPA firm. They include:

  • Changing employee attitudes. It has long been apparent that younger professionals have a different attitude toward work than their older Baby Boomer employers, placing a greater emphasis on work/life integration. As one example, the 2011 PCPS Top Talent Survey found that paid personal time or vacation was among the top three factors that attracted and retained the most promising professionals.

The expectations of young professionals were an extremely important consideration earlier in the last decade, when the competition for high-quality employees was intense. The recession alleviated some of that intensity, but there are signs that employees are beginning to consider their options once again, given the improved economic outlook. Indeed, according to the 2012 PCPS/TSCPA National Management of an Accounting Practice Survey, voluntary staff turnover has edged up to 9% in 2012 vs. 7% in 2010. Involuntary turnover--when staff is let go--is down: 3% in 2012 vs. 7% in 2010. When – not if – competition begins to heat up again, firms with innovative policies that focus on work/life integration may have an advantage.  

  • Building trust. Employees who feel trusted are more honest and dedicated to their employer. An unlimited vacation plan is an easy way to build that trust. But that means management will have to feel comfortable placing a high level of trust in the staff. Although, you may be surprised at how your employees handle the increased responsibility. Organizations that have implemented unlimited vacation policies have not only seen increased dedication, but increased collaboration among employees.
  • Low cost. When managed properly, this is a relatively low-cost perk that can help demonstrate the CPA firm’s commitment to employees’ best interests. Plus, when treated as use-it-or-lose-it, accrued vacation costs the firm nothing when an employee leaves.

Of course busy season and other professional necessities do place some limits on a CPA firm’s ability to offer unlimited time off. But would implementing this policy during the off season benefit your practice? It may be worth considering. You may find that it inspires greater staff loyalty and a stronger work ethic in your firm.  

This blog post incorporates information provided by Weiner, Edrich, Brown, Inc.

Tom Pender, CPA, CGMA, Project Manager – PCPS, American Institute of CPAs. Tom oversees the National MAP, CPA Firm Top Issues and Succession Planning surveys. Additionally, he manages PCPS relationships with state CPA societies, development of the practice growth resource center, oversight of emerging partner initiatives and general PCPS marketing.


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