Unlimited Vacation—An Idea Whose Time Has Come?

April 17, 2012
Posted by Link Staffing Services

As a recent article in Fast Company detailed, vacation policies are among the topics of employee nitpicking that are changing all over the country.  The new policy? It’s often no policy at all. While it may seem counterintuitive, many organizations are warming to the belief that unlimited vacation can actually make their workforces more productive. Companies such as IBM, Netflix, and AccessabilityPartners have all thrown out the old plans and gone to unlimited vacation policies.

What’s changed is employees’ attitudes toward their vacation time and the way they spend it. The rise of the laptop and mobile communications has made it much easier for workers to work at home—or anywhere else. And they’re taking advantage of it. A study by CareerBuilder showed that three out of every 10 workers planning a vacation aim to take the office with them. Thirty percent reported they will contact work on their time off, up from 25% in 2010.  Workers are managing their emails on the beach and writing reports on the airplane, so vacation time isn’t entirely down time.

Also, unlimited vacation does not necessarily mean unlimited freedom for most employees. The pressure remains to maintain productivity and performance, even when unlimited vacation beckons. The responsibility also remains to plan vacation time to avoid coinciding with other employees’ time. Some employees even feel a little guilty about taking too much time off.

One odious responsibility that does go away with an unlimited vacation policy is the need to track every employee’s vacation time, not to mention the pressure on employees to “use it or lose it” as the end of the year approaches. Ad Dharmesh Shah, cofounder and CTO of Hubspot, one of the country’s fastest growing software firms puts it: “One thing we are pretty sure about is that it's a less stressful way to manage it.”

Is your company ready to take the plunge to unlimited vacation? You might find it’s not as chaotic as it sounds.


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