Vacation Daze: Buy or Sell?

Posted on: Monday, December 31st, 2012
Posted in: HR FYI, Blog | Leave a comment

Over lunch recently, a work colleague who’s a longtime executive at a large ad agency described her Catch-22 predicament: She has about 40 days of unused vacation saved up. BUT, due to excessive vakay stockpiling, the company has set a 1-31-13 “use it or lose it” date. My friend is too busy to take that time. So she’ll lose enough paid time off to fulfill a dang decent PAID BreakAway of 8 weeks. Ouch!

Companies buying and selling free time

Another, perhaps more employer-friendly, option seems to be gaining popularity in corporate America. Some firms let people buy additional time off, or sell back unused time for extra pay, or both. A 2010 survey found that less that only 14% of employers do so, but doesn’t that seem like a win-win?

The kerfuffle continues…

Despite lofty intentions, many hard workers just can’t manage meaningful vacations. So they burn out and get grumpy, right? Families and resorts suffer, right? The company appears stinchy-Grinchy, right? Which all leads to a pile of questions that (we hope) both employers AND employees will ponder more routinely…

  • Are employers working so hard out of fear—of losing their jobs?
  • Is there an epidemic of sick corporate cultures that expect everyone to work long hours with few days off?
  • Is someone getting rich off of all this abusive, curmudgeonly behavior?
  • Why are employers such wimps when it comes to fighting for the right to life with liberty and the pursuit of happiness; is that not America’s #1 alleged promise?
  • Why can’t companies realize that improved morale, well-being, and balance will lead to happier employees—and most likely, to a better bottom line?

We can do no better than to consider the advice of a very wise, successful man named Elmer Anderson (philanthropist, poet, governor of Minnesota, and founder of H.B. Fuller Company). Elmer got rich—and enriched many others—by asserting that: First, take good care of your customers. Second, take good care of your employees. And third—if you do both of those things well—the profits will take good care of themselves.


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