In The News: Why we switched to an unlimited vacation policy
This article originally appeared in the Worcester Business Journal on April 18th, 2022.
At Vision Advertising, we’ve included unlimited vacation time in our staff perks for several years. Over that time, we’ve seen stronger team trust, decreased human resources paperwork, and faster recruitment. I’ve found when you treat your staff like the adults that they are, they rise to the occasion. While this policy isn’t for every company, it’s always worth exploring.
It takes (and shows) more trust
One of the biggest concerns is unlimited vacation will be exploited. That Karen in accounting might decide to take three weeks of every month off, and you (as the employer) would be powerless to do anything. At Vision Advertising, we look at unlimited vacation time as any other perk or policy, setting expectations up front with regular check ins and requested feedback. It shows trust.
It’s a great perk for recruitment and retainment
Unlimited vacation time can be a great tool to remain competitive in the job market, both for recruitment and staff thinking about switching jobs. Who wants to switch back to tracking your limited days off? It shows a culture of individual empowerment and trust.
It’s less stressful (and less paperwork)
Ironically, managing a traditional vacation system can be very stressful for both your team and you. Tracking accumulating hours, monthly or yearly rollovers, and buyout require a lot of work from both sides to make a vacation happen, a roadblock even before the vacation requests come in. Switching over to unlimited meant we didn’t have these cumbersome systems getting in the way.
What to keep in mind when starting an unlimited vacation policy
It works best in salaried, project-based settings. It truly shines when people don’t have to worry about set hours and can finish projects before or after vacations. In a job where people’s work is based on hourly rates and work, unlimited vacation can be disruptive.
You still need a vacation request process. You still need to coordinate vacations to make sure the office and projects are covered, as well as that any deadline work is still getting completed.
Continue to promote a good healthy work-life balance. Surprisingly, some studies on unlimited vacation show that there is a real risk people will take less time off, since there’s no pressure to “Use it, or lose it.” Check in regularly to help your team members avoid burnout.
We made the change because we knew our staff would not only enjoy the difference, they would thrive in it. It’s important for any business, regardless of size, to review its policies and industry trends and make changes. Even if this policy isn’t for you, it shows the value of change to avoid stagnation.