Everyone wants a vacation, but we don’t seem to be able to agree on how to let our employees take them. Corporate vacation policies can be anything from liberal and permissive to harsh and constraining. You want to be sure that your own company’s policy drives a happy medium between the two. Employees should feel they can take vacation easily and when they need to, but employees also need to know the time spent away from the office is just that: time spent away from the office.
In the interest of helping you better identify a vacation policy that works for you and your employees, here’s are how some other folks do it.
A certain number of days off per year. This is the standard almost everywhere. It works for a lot of people, but it also has its problems. It’s rigid, and a boring solution to what should be a more universally acknowledged problem: people don’t take enough vacation. This policy will work because it’s what people are used to, but that doesn’t mean things couldn’t be better.
No vacation policy at all. This policy suggests all kinds of forward-thinking and positive-leaning attitudes about your workplace. Effectively, your employees are free to take as much vacation as they like as long as their work and responsibilities are completed. Companies like Evernote, Best Buy, Netflix, and Virgin subscribe to this system. The emphasis is not on how long you work, but on what you get done while working.
The family vacation. It sounds like something out of Oprah: taking your employees and all of their family members with you somewhere. Maybe you fancy yourself something of a once-in-a-while Santa Claus. What better way to show your appreciation to your employees (and the families that they spend their time with) than by taking everyone somewhere nice? Gaming company Valve famously takes its employees and family members somewhere nice each year and pays for everything.
But this isn’t a realistic option for everyone investigating vacation policies. Some companies might find that they are better off granting employees longer vacations at a time, rather than paying to take everyone to the same place. You could call a sabbatical policy: letting employees take several weeks, a month, or even more go somewhere or do something non-work-related. For companies that endorse this type of policy, it’s common to see that employees need to achieve some degree of seniority before taking advantage of it, say five years before earning a month off.
You might also like the idea of dark weeks. This is a policy in which your company has its own vacation calendar. No work is done during designated weeks — that is employee time to vacation and rest up. An advantage to this policy is that employees will be able to rest a little easier knowing that they aren’t the only people taking time off.
Vacations are not a problem, they are a solution. You should encourage your employees to take them as needed in order to avoid burnout. Doing so will cement to you as a respectable leader and a person who understands employee needs.