Good and Bad by vees via Flickr Creative Commons 

Have you heard about the new trend in vacation policies?   Unlimited vacation has taken off quickly, being put into practice at some major companies: Netflix, IBM, Morningstar and Blue Wolf, according to this article at The Grindstone.

Sounds great!

Also known as a “results-only work environment,” for a self-motivated employee who gets their work done and finds themselves with time on their hands at the office, this could be a great part of a benefits package.

But is it for everyone?

US workers get fewer paid vacation days, on average, than workers in any other First World country, with only 13 days. Here is a helpful chart I found on infoplease.com:

Italy

42 days

France

37 days

Germany

35 days

Brazil

34 days

United Kingdom

28 days

Canada

26 days

Korea

25 days

Japan

25 days

U.S.

13 days

Clearly the US has a way to go to become competitive with these countries and there is no doubt that US workers could use more time off to spend unwinding and recharging, not to mention developing their creativity.

Of course, unlimited vacation sounds wonderful and for many workers it is a great benefit—increasing productivity and efficiency, while boosting morale and reducing turnover. But there are some potential downsides:

  • If you are a natural workaholic, you might not ever feel like you are truly “off” if you can work whenever you want.
  • If you function better with more structure—and many of us do—you might find it difficult to get your work done without daily the daily accountability that comes with being in the office.
  • Employers save money on recordkeeping, but they don’t pay for any accrued vacation if you leave your job—use it or lose it for real!
  • Dynamics with co-workers can suffer if you get to leave when you’re done, but they can’t because they still have work to do. If you are very efficient, you could go home early every day while the methodical person in the office next door has to stay.

Unlimited vacation sounds to me like getting some of the benefits of freelancing without the disadvantages: work on your own schedule but still have health insurance and paid days off. Then again, I’m fast and disciplined about getting my work done.

How do you think you would do with unlimited vacation?

Wendy Stackhouse
, Consultant for Artisan Creative