Well, that got your attention, huh?
While the headline may indeed be catchy, there are relatively few American companies out there that actually adhere to this take-what-you-like policy of doling out vacation time for their employees, according to a viewpoint piece just posted on Time.com.
According to Dharmesh Shah, co-founder and CTO of Hubspot:
Our company, HubSpot, does vacation differently. We expect everyone who works here to deliver remarkable results. In return, we offer all our employees, at every level, unlimited vacation and the autonomy to determine when, where and how they take it.
Shah goes on to say that it’s impossible to know if his employees are taking more — or less — vacation time than at other companies: “We don’t know, because we literally don’t track it.”
Could there possibly be a downside to giving employees all the time off they could ever want? Shah says yes:
The potential downside of our policy is that individuals who can work anytime, anywhere will feel that they can’t break away from the rapid pace of a fast-growing company. We address that concern in two ways: first, we hold managers accountable by getting quarterly feedback to ensure employees are getting enough time off. Second, we as executives set the tone with our own behavior: I’m well known for working late into the night — and almost never showing up before 11 a.m., while my co-founder is well known for building his schedule around his beloved Red Sox.
While such an open vacation policy certainly won’t fly at most organizations, Shah and his company are to commended, as he puts it, “replacing the adversarial relationship between work and life with a collaborative one.”
The comments to the piece, while mostly positive, also show the possible limits of just such an arrangement. For example, Fillybuster2 writes:
In a company, staffed by professionals, this system could work very well. Technology has enabled this by limiting the need for support staff and enabling communication of all types between employees and with customers. The world within which Shah’s company operates needs high levels of creativity which doesn’t occur on demand. And a more relaxed attitude towards time off may facilitate creativity, among other things.
However, many if not most, workers today provide direct services to the public. This includes government workers (police, fire, courts, agency srervices, etc.), food services (groceries, fast food, etc.), utilities and so forth. They require staffing, sometimes 24/7, at specified times and cannot be so casual with time off.
Employee productivity and retention requires that industries match leave policies to staffing needs within their industry, while also being as lienient as possible about time off enabling employees to have a good work/life balance.