Vacation Policy: Be Reasonable

Take a Vacation!
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We have a very simple vacation policy: be reasonable. That’s it. We don’t track vacation days, sick days, or flex days. Not tracking vacation days doesn’t mean people take as much time off without getting their job done, rather it means that we track results and people make sure their work gets done on their own.

If a team member wants to take time off we ask them to coordinate with their team in advance proportional to the amount of time off (e.g. give a week’s notice to take a day off, a month’s notice to take a week off, etc). The idea is that it’s the employee’s responsibility to make sure their results are taken care of and not the manager’s responsibility.

When I explain to people that we have a “no vacation tracking policy” I’m inevitably asked what do we do if someone abuses it. The answer: we’d let them know they aren’t meeting our “be reasonable” goal and we’d part ways if it continues. It’s never happened.

As part of our good work, good people, and good pay approach, we believe employees are our most important asset. Empowering team members to come and go as they please as well as take as much or little time off as needed while their work still gets done helps contribute to our strong culture.

What else? What other thoughts do you have on this vacation policy?

3 thoughts on “Vacation Policy: Be Reasonable

  1. A number of companies have started implementing this in the design engineering space. Most who ask about this policy being abused have never worked for a startup since the problem in startups tend to be getting people to actually use their vacation time (everyone’s job has a critical impact on the bottom line).

    When we first started, we didn’t have any specific holiday schedule allowing everyone to decide on what holidays they wanted to take off. This worked fine except if most were not taking off a holiday, then the policy sounds like, “You can take the day off, but you should feel guilty since the rest of us will be working”.

    I have wondered how those who have this policy still encourage those who might work themselves into burnout to still take their vacation. Even with our existing policy of having vacation, it can sometimes be difficult to schedule time to take vacation due to always having something critical that needs to be done. Having vacation time saved up at least helps justify that some time off is needed.

    All that said, I think having an open vacation policy assuming employees make use of it is certainly empowering. It makes working for someone else’s company feel a lot more like working for yourself. I would be curious on your thoughts regarding the culture of vacation.

  2. Beign in California we have many laws that affect pay, accuals, work weeks, work days, etc. based on employee classificiation. This is interesting since an accrual is never created I wonder how terminations and related pay be affected. I also wonder how the “labor law emplowered attitude” will fuel employees who wish to question this policy. You would think that employees would be greatful for a policy like this but it may not always be the case… food for thought….

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