I’m not one of those sad workaholics who can’t manage to use up their measly pittance of vacation time each year.
No, I treat my too-few paid days off like precious jewels. I carefully plan each day throughout the year. Last year, I used almost every single one to spend time with my newborn daughter (part of my 12-week FMLA leave).
I tack them on to three-day holiday weekends. I try to squeeze out one full week to travel somewhere in the summer. I even save a few gems for the end of the year, so I can spend extra time with family during the Christmas holidays.
I simply can’t imagine the sheer awesomeness of an unlimited vacation policy. But for the 300-plus salaried folks at Netflix in California, the endless vacation smorgasbord is a reality.
Seriously! Netflix employees can take off as much time as they see fit. As long as they get their work done. CEO Reed Hastings calls vacation limits and face-time requirements “a relic of the industrial age.” Sounds a lot like the philosophy over at Best Buy, which has instituted a results-only work environment policy.
Hastings goes on to say:
The worst thing is for a manager to come in and tell me: ‘Let’s give Susie a huge raise because she’s always in the office.’ What do I care? I want managers to come to me and say: ‘Let’s give a really big raise to Sally because she’s getting a lot done’ – not because she’s chained to her desk.
Amen, brother! Preach the word.
P.S. Thanks to my pal Michelle for alerting me to this story.
Update: Fast-forward to 2015: I now technically live the dream. I work at a startup, which happens to have an unlimited vacation policy.
Funny thing, though. I’m not taking the weeks at a time of relaxing, beach-side vacations I used to imagine. In reality, I take off about three weeks a year. Maybe one of those weeks is going somewhere “cool.” The rest of my paid time off is spent staying home with my kids when they’re on a school break or visiting family for holidays.
Over the years, more companies have jumped onto the unlimited paid time off bandwagon (although they still represent only a tiny percentage of employers). Among them:
- General Electric
- Gilt Groupe
- GoHealth Insurance
- The Motley Fool
- Netflix (yep, they still have it)
- Survey Monkey
- Virgin Group
Notice, the majority of these companies are Silicon Valley-tech startup types (the remarkable exception being GE, which only recently announced the change). And for some employees, a lack of clarity can actually lead to taking less time off under a “free for all” kind of vacation policy. That’s not good for anyone.
“The key to getting an unlimited vacation policy to work is to create the right culture,” the Society for Human Resource Management advises. “That means setting a standard of mutual trust, where both worker and employer trust each other not to abuse the system.”