Before I decided to become an entrepreneur and start my own consulting company, I worked full-time for a trendy start-up in New York. I spent three — very happy — years building an editorial strategy for this cool company, and it was a breath of fresh air from my previous employment in the mega-corporate world of traditional news.
In addition to the ability to wear workout clothes to work (yaaaas!), they also had an unlimited vacation policy, and the option to work from home when you needed to. Though there have been plenty of naysayers about this approach to PTO, in my experience, I found myself working harder to soak up the privilege.
Since I could technically leave at 3 p.m. when my work and meetings were done for the week (or the day), I had an incentive to arrive earlier in the day. And when the wine country of Spain tantalized me? I gave in to the temptation and happily took two weeks off, guilt-free.
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These days, as a freelancer, a vacation without checking my email seems like a major luxury, but I still stand by companies who adopt more flexible approaches to vacay. After all, we all need a break — and shouldn’t feel bad about recharging. If you think your employer should take a page out of the most innovative companies’ handbooks, here’s how to convince them:
Unlimited actually means less vacation
Career branding expert Wendi Weiner says flexible work schedules are starting to implement unlimited vacation policies as an added benefit in the compensation policy because, well, it makes sense. In fact, some studies indicate that most employees who have this option only take 13 days off a year, while those who are restricted take the full 15 they’re given.
“This is intriguing because perhaps the less restrictive policy would potentially open the door to people abusing it, but instead the freedom and flexibility allows for them to have more opportunity to use it as they see fit without fear of limitation,” she explains.
Unlimited means an improved work culture
Though we’re tempted to quote Elle Woods here — we’ll put it a different way. Vacation allows professionals to take a break from strategy and being constantly plugged in, and allows them to live in the moment, experience another culture, and get the rest they need. This is good for everyone: the manager, the employee, the clients. Weiner explains when professionals feel like they aren’t penalized for being away from the office, they are happier in their day-to-day.
“By encouraging unlimited vacations, you are rewarding employees for their work performance as well as highlighting a dedicated policy towards improved work culture,” she continues. “This will enable employees to not second guess putting in for a vacation request, and be inclined to use it without feeling the need for taking advantage of it or fearing not taking it at all.”
Unlimited means stronger productivity
Think about those days when you have something fun to do in the evening – or the working hours leading up to vacation. Because you are ready to get out of the office, you’re much more inclined to work efficiently. Weiner says this is a major perk for employers since their employees are motivated, on task and diligent.
As a double-bonus, most people are focused before and after vacation, since they come back with a renewed perspective.
Bottom line? Put that OOO up already.
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