A job that comes with unlimited vacation sounds like a dream come true. What’s better than lying on the beach every day with a cocktail in hand, plus getting a paycheck, too! In reality, unlimited vacation policies are a bit more complicated with potential advantages and drawbacks for both employees and employers.
What is an unlimited vacation?
To begin with, an unlimited vacation is far from “unlimited”. “Flexible” would be a more accurate way to describe it. This type of vacation policy lets employees decide how many days to take off, when to take them, and how these days will be used. It can be a sick day, a vacation, or just time spent catching up on errands.
Who is offering them?
While unlimited vacations are a hot topic, only one percent of companies have actually taken the plunge according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Those that are adopting unlimited vacations tend to be tech startups that are talent-hungry, eager to attract Millennials, and more open to less traditional operational approaches. LinkedIn, Netflix, Hubspot, Evernote, and Zendesk are just a few of the companies that have introduced unlimited vacations in recent years. However, more traditional blue-chip companies are also starting to pay attention to the trend, with GE making this perk available to their executives as of 2015.
While unlimited vacations offer employees more freedom and control, there are also upsides for employers.
While unlimited vacations offer clear business benefits, it’s not all sunshine and piña coladas. Interestingly, while companies tend to worry most about employees abusing the privilege, the reality is that poor planning and poor communication are often the bigger issues.
For Tronc (formerly Tribune Publishing), implementing an unlimited vacation policy was a disaster. Employees who stood to lose their accumulated vacation time, as a result of the transition, threatened to sue the company, and the firm was forced to reverse the decision within days.
Unlimited vacation policies can also be confusing. Kickstarter ended its unlimited vacation policy because employees didn’t know how much time they were actually allowed to take off, and the lack of clarity was making them feel stressed and uncertain.
Unlimited vacation policies may not be the right fit for every company, but they are worth a closer look if:
If you’re planning to implement an unlimited vacation policy in your organization, these two best practices can help the process go smoothly.
Does your company plan to adopt an unlimited vacation policy? If so, what’s motivating the decision? Share your experience in the comments.
I believe that, when people are not given a straight direction about how much time they need to take off, many workers can feel uncertain and actually take less time off than they might have earned in the past because they do not want to be perceived as lazy. Interesting how the human mind works.
I loved your article. I was recently reading that Kickstarter ended its unlimited vacation policy after finding that employees were taking less time off than they had under the previous policy that had provided a fixed number of days.
Raise your hands if you believe this is almost impossible to accomplish with no consequences. Either the employees will take less time off, or they would go on vacation too often and leave a complete chaos behind them. 🙂
Thank you, John. Glad you liked it.