Vacation all I ever wanted; the cost benefits of an open vacation policy

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Posted by Mindy Fineout

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September 21, 2010

Best Buy does it. Netflix does it. Could an open vacation policy be coming to an HR department near you? We've all heard the phrase, "If it's too good to be true, it probably is." Have these so-called unlimited vacation policies proved the saying wrong? Or are they the best thing for workers since the weekend?

It's no surprise that America lags behind the competition in other developed countries for time allotted to employees to recharge their batteries. Europe and Australia are required to give between 20 and 30 days per year. Several countries have vacation laws mandating the number of vacation days that must be given to employees. Meanwhile, 25 percent of Americans don't get any paid vacation time from their employers. And of the employees who do get it, only 57 percent are taking full advantage.

More vacation time equals fewer sick days, happier workers, and better productivity. So why hasn't America caught on? Throughout the recession, one thing that has remained fairly consistent has been paid vacation days. The reason why? It's a cost effective way to keep your employees happy and engaged. So why not build on that to increase productivity and further benefit from cost savings?

Netflix, Best Buy, and some other smaller companies are catching on and have implemented unlimited vacation policies, which mean exactly what it says. Paid time off is not tracked, nor is it limited. Just take it when you need it! Employees are evaluated on productivity, not presence. And having more time to refresh and recharge, they are (you guessed it) more productive!

So what is the price of paid vacation to employees? Though there is a financial impact of paid time off, employers can make up for the lost production by getting people to focus on productivity while at work.

More approved time to recharge means less unapproved time to waste watching another funny kitten video on YouTube while on the clock. The bottom line is that taking paid time away from work means making the hours on the job count even more, which only boosts productivity. Additionally, any negative impact to the company from paid time off pales in comparison to the cost of employees being overworked.

What are the benefits of an unlimited vacation policy to employers outside of improved production? Companies will save exponentially on avoiding vacation payouts either from year to year, or when an employee leaves the company.

As vacation accrues, and our corporate culture mandates very little time away from work, employees tend to rack up the days. Just look at the 57 percent of employees not using all of their paid time off. They are likely cashing out, if not now, then later, which can cost employers a fortune.

There's a saying that if you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, it's yours forever. If it doesn't, then it was never meant to be. The employees your company wants will come back, and when they do, they will work even harder.

Topics: Staff Management

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