I’ve been sick for the last couple of days, so today’s thing of the day is going to be about how to manage paid time off and sick days, etc. for a small agency.

20 years of ups and downs

My agency’s been around for almost 20 years now, and we’ve gone through everything from having no policy up to having a full handbook with tons and tons of policies, and then all the way back down to not having a policy again. Here’s the thing. What I learned is that when the team is small, and when I say small, I mean like your core team is less than 10 or 11 people. With that team size, you can just say, “I know everyone here. This is really easy. If you need a day off, you just take it as long as your work’s getting done, your deadlines are being met, everything is good to go, then it’s fine.”

How we manage PTO with less than 10 people

What we tell people is just make your meetings. If you say you’re going to be there, be there. Make sure your projects are done. Make sure your work is done. As long as that’s done, I don’t really care if you’re here or not.

In fact, we have a fully remote policy where we are a remote company, so you’re never here anyway!

But as far as time off goes, people still call in and they kind of request it, but it’s almost never denied. It’s always just, “Sure, whatever you need.”

When do you need a policy handbook?

Everyone here is a hard worker. Everyone does a great job. We have a high level of trust in everyone. When you’re a small team like this, you can do that, but once you hit about … It’s not that big of a jump, but once you hit about 15 people, it just starts to change. It just gets harder because now I can’t just call somebody up and have a really close personal conversation with them. There’s another layer of hierarchy there, especially now when you go from having 15, 16 people up to 25 or 28 people.

The most we ever got was to 28 people, and when we hit 28, we absolutely needed a full policy.

Rules can only be broken if you have them.

So when your team is more than 15 or 16 people, then you really need to have a full handbook. You need to have a paid time off policy. You need to have the whole everything, and that handbook really needs to cover all of the different rules. Remember, if you have rules, you can break them, but if you don’t have rules, then people are going to walk all over you.

I hope this is helpful, and I’ll talk to you soon.