Tag: vacation policy

Time Is Running Out – So Take It!

The end of the year is fast approaching and it always seems that there are employees who have yet to request time off.  Some companies have “use it or lose it” policies and others allow employees to carry over all or some of the unused time. But don’t let the policy be the manager, as leaders of your organization, you need to think about the following:

  • Have your employees taken or scheduled their vacation?
  • Will employees have unused vacation at the end of the year for which they will want to be compensated in cash?
  • Can the company afford to cash out unused vacation?
  • Do you have a vacation carry-over policy and is the policy clear on how unused, earned vacation is handled?

Having employees with a unused vacation time at the end of the year is not an advantage to the business.  Quite the contrary.  If you don’t have a carry-over practice, employees will be disgruntled at the loss of time off.  If you do have a carry-over practice, then you as the employer will have to carry the financial expense onto the books for next year and your business operations will have to absorb even more time off in the daily operations.  It is better to proactively manage employee time off.

Now is a good time to take a look at what time employees have remaining and encourage employees to schedule and/or use their vacation to avoid an end-of-the year rush that may interfere with business operations.  Your encouragement will let your employees know that taking time off is important and that you care about them and their well-being.

I am a firm believer that vacations are for taking and that work-life balance is a benefit to the workplace.  Sure, there will be unusual circumstances that may cause an individual to miss or reschedule some or all vacation, but it should not be a regular occurrence.  If this is a regular occurrence, the management team must investigate and fix this problem.

Carryover can be a great way to allow flexibility for employees but as stated earlier, the employer carries the cost onto their books for the next year.  If an employee couldn’t squeeze in the two weeks this year and you make them feel good by allowing them to carry it over, how will they get the four weeks in next year?  The employer needs to be able to support a carry-over policy within the parameters of its business operations.  If carry-over becomes systemic it will, sooner or later, demotivate employees or you will find yourself issuing large lump sum checks.  In some states it is mandatory that employees be compensated.

Employers can support their employees by helping them plan to take time off.  Nothing is worse than getting to the end of the year with remaining vacation days and then being told that you can’t take them when you want.  Also some employees deliberately don’t use vacation if they can get a big payout at the end of the year.  This doesn’t support the practice of time off for work-life balance.  A little bit of organization, encouragement and management from their direct supervisor will keep the operations running smoothing and will assure all employees are getting the time off they deserve under the guidelines of your vacation policy.  Employers and managers will be rewarded with refreshed and invigorated teammates.

Netflix Nixes its Vacay Policy: Read Between the Lines…

Earlier this week, I read a truly fascinating article about the corporate culture over at Netflix, specifically their unconventional vacation policy.  Being a hyper-successful company easily outstripping it’s competition, I was intrigued by the details.  Netflix has completely eliminated their vacation policy:

Salaried employees can take as much time off as they’d like, whenever they want to take it. Nobody – not employees themselves, not managers – tracks vacation days.

My first skim of the article had me disbelieving that any such policy (or lack thereof) could result in anything less than chaos and a routinely empty office – especially on the days surrounding every minor holiday and 4-day weekend.  My second, more thorough, read had me officially convinced of their reasoning.

Bringing Work to the BeachBased on my own professional experiences, I think the vacation policy Netflix follows, while exceptionally bold, is also relatively  sensible considering how individuals work in a modern world.  Managers at any and all levels should be most interested in work being accomplished efficiently, creatively and on-deadline and less interested in where specifically that work gets done.  As I sit here on my couch at 10:53 pm, I am acutely aware of working outside the confines of the office.  The freedom to work whenever and wherever gives an employee a higher level of responsibility and more opportunity to prove his or her dedication to and passion for the company.  Contrary to popular belief, it actually sets a higher standard for employee performance.  Working only nine-to-five is a practice that is becoming more obsolete and can (sometimes) indicate a disengaged employee.  Without overtime pay for salaried employees and with the advent of telecommuting, employers can proactively seek out individuals who can be held accountable for deliverables, regardless of time and place.

One of the primary principles I learned in college is that communication technology, from the telegraph to the iPhone, reconstructs time and space for society.  People easily connect across continents and the final barrier to communication really exists only in time zones (and this may be deconstructed as time travel becomes possible).  It’s imperative that employers adjust workplace norms to reflect this high-degree of flexibility.  As Netflix aptly points out,

We should focus on what people get done, not how many hours or days worked. Just as we don’t have a nine to five day policy, we don’t need a vacation policy.

I encourage you to re-evaluate your own policies to determine if they match with where your employees fit along the spectrum.  Not every company can adopt such a liberal policy, nor should they.  Each company and employee is unique for a reason.  But maybe it’s time to address your employees needs and provide them with the freedom to choose their own responsibility.  At the end of the day, you may find more engaged and productive employees, leading to more innovation and more growth within your organization.