Please, Please, Take a Vacation

If you could have unlimited vacation days from work, how many would you take? That’s the question asked in a story by Sue Shellenbarger in the WSJ, when she visited companies who have adopted a policy of letting employees take as much time off as they want. Not surprisingly, most workers don’t take more than four weeks or so, the same amount they would be allotted by most large firms’ standard policies.

It’s all because of the connectedness of work these days, the article explains. People such as the folks who work at Netflix, are on all the time…they get work emails at home, work on projects on the weekends and are judged by the numbers, not the time they put in. It’s an open ended system that results in most people taking between three and five weeks off a year. The catch? “Netflix employees keep in touch via email or phone when they’re on vacation.”

How about a raffle that forces the winner to leave on a vacation? They have that at the Motley Fool, a VA financial services company. Along with the unlimited vacation, each month a drawing is held and the winner must take two weeks off the next month. The challenge? They have to tell the company what they did, and it better be something interesting. People have climbed mountains and built treehouses, and one woman said she wants to finish writing her romance novel.

At other firms, the challenge is getting employees to take any time off in the first place. One Cambridge MA video producer now offers anyone who takes ten consecutive workdays off two additional weeks of paid time to use later.