Unlimited Vacation? Give Me A Break!

Posted on: Thursday, November 13th, 2014
Posted in: HR FYI, Blog | Leave a comment

DSC_0371The NYT recently published a story about companies offering “unlimited time off.” Publicity mogul Richard Branson had announced that his UK and US companies would adopt such a practice. As usual, the media went gaga. And then the HR pundits weighed in. Now it’s my turn.

Take your time…when you’re “100% sure”

Such implausible policies usually come with not-so-fine print. In this case, according to Mr. Branson’s blog, employees should feel free to embrace the policy when they:

“feel a hundred per cent comfortable that they and their team are up to date on every project and that their absence will not in any way damage the business—or, for that matter, their careers!”

Sounds like a typical Boss Man. I remember taking my first “real” job out of college at a small ad agency. When I asked the owner about his sick-day policy, he said, “Sick days? We don’t need that. When you’re sick, you’re sick.” The policy never was clear to me, though I remember colleagues frequently working while ill. Ish!

Mr. Branson: Is anyone every 100% sure of anything? “Their team?” “Every project?” “The business?” “Their careers?” If perfection were the goal, we’d never stop working. And still never reach 100%. Mr. Branson: Your policy is, at best, a fuzzy discourtesy to the priceless professionals who’ve made you a billionaire.

Some vacation policy tips we can LIVE with

Having hung around countless hard-working (and sometimes burned-out) pros for years, here are some ideas I’ve gathered that seems to work for all parties…

  • 2-4 weeks of paid vacation. Yes, it should be more. But this is ‘Merrka. But if you start young and the company gives you 4 weeks in 5-10 years: Sweet.
  • Use it or lose it vacation time. No, you can’t work your harried ass off and hoard those days as an exit strategy (or whatever). You MUST take time off. Or you lose the ability to keep adding more. You’ll be a better employee (and person).
  • Sabbaticals. Since this site is dedicated to that proposition, how about something so simple as one month off every five years, or three months off every seven years.
  • Paid leave for family matters. That includes dads, who often suffer a reverse-discrimination (that nobody talks about). There are laws supporting this now, yet many folks and employers don’t go there. Life is short. Family comes first.
  • Sick leave or PTO. “When you’re sick, you’re sick,” and you need to get better—and not sicken the staffers that surround you. PTO is for when you just need a day off. Mental health? Personal problem? Dog ate your laptop? Deal with it. No questions asked.
  • 40-hour work weeks. Let’s work hard and smart and then focus on The Big Picture and wellbeing. Anyway, ever check Facebook? Most folks are posting and commenting from work. No wonder they’re working long hours!

What do you think of Branson’s policy?  What’s yours?

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