HR Strange But True!
September 02, 2010
Need a vacation? How about an unlimited, paid vacation? Some organizations are surprising their employees and rewriting their vacation policies—or getting rid of them all together!

When an employee at Social Strata, a small social media company, had to take time off to care for her injured husband, the owners of the company rethought their vacation policy. The employee was a hard worker, and they wanted to let her take as much time as she needed.

Then Ted and Rosemary O’Neill, the owners of Social Strata, realized that all of their employees deserved this freedom and decided to extend it to all 10 employees.

During a Monday meeting, they announced that there would be unlimited paid vacation. At first, employees thought it was joke.

“People have lives,” said Rosemary O’Neill. “We want them to be able to, I don't know, take a pottery class or go to their child's play or help a relative who's sick.”

Social Strata is among the 1 percent of U.S. businesses who offer unlimited paid vacation, according a recent World at Work Survey.

Some larger companies are also offering this generous benefit. For example, Netflix did away with their “standard model of N days per year” in 2004. On their job webpage, 'Netflix Vacation Policy and Tracking' is followed by “there is no policy or tracking.” The company relies on its workers to stay productive. Chief Talent Officer Patty McCord is quoted saying, “There is no clothing policy at Netflix, but no one has come to work naked lately.”

While some employers may be hesitant to offer unlimited paid vacation, employers like the O’Neill’s say that their employees have not taken unfair advantage of the new policy. In fact, one employee observed that the biggest change is that colleagues actually stay home when they are sick, making the workplace a healthier environment.

In addition, some studies have shown that flexible workplace policies can increase employees’ productivity and engagement.

If you missed last week’s HR Strange but True! column, read Je Suis en Vacances--Beaucoup! and see which workers from around the world put their own health at risk because they feel obligated to work, work, work and seldom take a vacation?



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