Why Business Owners Should Offer Unlimited Vacation for Employees in 2015


How do you deal when employees want to take some time off? Are you in favor of setting a strict and rigid vacation timetable or do you trust them enough so as to do as they please? Maybe you haven’t really thought it through but trusting your employees when it comes to taking time off could provide better results, thus transforming your company into a better workplace where employees feel safe and happy.

Most entrepreneurs grind their teeth when they hear the words “unlimited vacation”. Something about those words sends shivers down their spine and the first thing that crosses their mind is to lock the office door while “taking the employee hostage.” If you’re part of this category of business owners, don’t fret because you’re not the only one. Actually, most business owners have a great deal of discomfort when it comes to the concept of unlimited vacation. In turn, this explains why only 1% of companies here in the U.S. offer this program.

Among these companies we find large and established business empires such as Netflix and Richard Branson’s Virgin. Actually, the unlimited-vacation policy of Netflix has inspired Mr. Branson to adopt a similar policy for his company. Reed Hastings explained it best in the 2009 Netflix “Freedom and Responsibility” practices that his company uses a “trust policy” when it comes down to scheduling their vacation days. By doing this, he has managed to put the control in the hands of his employees.

Giving the power of paid time off to employees makes CEOs worry that their staff will shrink the work responsibilities and choose a four-day work week every single week. But guess what, employees tend to do exactly the opposite. The vacation policy is not meant to offer employees the green light to be lazy. It’s about trust. By adopting a vacation policy your employees will feel empowered to meet not only their individual goals but also those of the organization in the hours that work best for both parties. And in today’s digital age, the 9 to 5 schedule is antiquated at best.

Companies that have adopted this policy have registered impressive results. Employees feel empowered, thus they take a greater ownership of their roles, their collaboration with their work colleagues has improved and they also tend to work smarter in the office. Success shouldn’t be measured by the amount of time an employee spends in the office, but rather by “have I met my goals?” creed.

Here are 5 of the most important benefits your company could register by adopting the so-called trust policy:

1. Better connected teams are created while the employees become more agile.

A survey conducted by Glassdoor in 2014 found out that three out of five employees admit to working while they are on vacation. The main reason behind their decision to work is that they fear they are getting behind. And if anything, this speaks volumes about the presence of unsupported employees and team members. The trust policy encourages the team members to pitch ideas or even cover the workload of another employee. In turn, stronger and more versatile teams are built.

2. Employees will feel that you treat them as adults. In turn, it makes them more responsible while also feeling valuable.

By allowing their employees to find the schedule that works best for them, it shows them that they are valuable assets and trustworthy team members. Take for example an employee working 40 hours a week that doesn’t feel passionate about his/her work, yet he/she still wants to keep plugging away on a project.  Without the possibility to gain the hours back at a later date, the employee will tend to push the work for the following week or lose his/her precious personal time just to meet goals. And this can lead to resentment or even a significant reduction of eagerness when it comes to working on future projects.

3. It acts as a stimulant to boost the morale, productivity and happiness levels of your employees. Studies have found that employees are more productive when they take time off to lower the stress levels in their daily lives. Unlimited vacation gives employees a flexible work schedule that allows them to perfectly combine their work with personal aspects of their lives. Also, a committed employees is “ready to go” at any time during their time-off. Moreover, they might even pitch a great idea for your company while sitting on a beach or driving their kids to a baseball game.

4. Let’s not forget the financial aspect. By offering your employees unlimited vacation time, your company is able to save up some of its money, thus cutting its expenses. Adopting an unlimited vacation policy saves the cost of both tracking and managing the paid time-off schedule of your company.

5. Last but not least, it helps you recruit and retain your best employees. The open vacation policy can be a great incentive for potential employees. Job candidates are strongly in favor of unlimited days rather than the 16 days most companies here in the U.S. provide.

There is no such thing as the magic number of vacation days a business should adopt. That’s not the point. The point is to offer more freedom to employees so that they are able to integrate their work with other aspects of their lives. The happier the employees, the more motivated and productive they become.

Take some time and let it sink in. Good luck!

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