Unlimited Vacation Time at Your Job — Not As Crazy As It Sounds

It seems like a case of too good to be true, right?  A job with unlimited vacation time.  Unlimited paid vacation time.  And yet, some companies in the good ‘ole United States of America are adopting just such a practice.  This is quite a jump.  Most American companies go with the tried and true method of vacation time accrual, but some cutting-edge firms are finding that this rare perk actually boosts productivity and saves money in the long run.  But how could it be possible?

All the off time you want comes at a price.

Think about it.  America is heavily populated with companies that sponsor the classic 40 or 50-hour work week.  This has became a normal and accepted practice, but there are some jobs out there where the schedule actually decreases the amount of work that is performed.  The concept is simple.  If you are hourly employee and required to work forty hours to get your base pay, then you have absolutely no incentive to complete your job any quicker than forty hours.  Now, there will be plenty of people saying that an attitude like this means you don’t have real work ethic.  Turn it around the other way.  What if there is someone in a job that can easily complete it and someone else’s in 25 to 30 hours but they are forced to hang around for 40 to 50 just to complete their own.  Why would any company not want to harness that?  Because most people are on the other side of the fence, and so it has become a norm in the working world.  For those relatively few that can pull it off, they are forced to either take on more and more of other people’s work to amass their precious 40 hours, or worse yet, they stall and make their job go the distance.

How does this tie into unlimited vacation time?  Simple.  Companies that offer this perk are providing an almost dreamlike benefit to their employees.  Unlimited paid vacation.  But like most things in life, there is a catch.  These companies hold their employees 100% accountable for their jobs.  Let’s face the facts.  The people out there that are milking their jobs out to 40 or 50 hours when they know they could do a lot more generally get away with it.  This is because there’s a more than excellent chance that the person monitoring their performance is milking their 40 to 50 hours as well, and so on and so forth.  Companies that offer unlimited paid vacation time have real accountability, meaning you get your job done, you perform at the levels they require, and they couldn’t care less how long it takes you to do it as long as you perform it at or above the standard they have set.  The standards are not easy; only elite people will even be considered for positions like this.  People that wind up in these jobs are expected to have the skill, ability, and responsibility for their own work that it takes to meet and exceed the expectations.  And a concept that to most average companies would seem like a death sentence actually is increasing productivity.  Why?  Because workers have a goal.  Something to shoot for besides just making their 40 and getting the same check as last week.

Granted there are lots of jobs that have to be hourly.  Jobs like cashiering, for instance, are examples of jobs that could never be much different than they are now.  The flow of customers never ends.  They have no choice but to pay it out by the hour because someone has to be there to do it as long as a business is open.  The same goes for several other professions, things like cooks, police officers, firemen, etc.  However, there are plenty of jobs out there where companies focus too much on a set amount of time instead of a set amount of productivity.  Companies like Google and Netflix are famous for this policy.  They don’t look at anything in terms of hours invested.  They look at a yearly salary.  They pay this person x amount of dollars per year to perform this job to the specifications they create.  Time is not a part of the equation.  So, when you say unlimited paid vacation time, it’s not really costing these companies a dime more than the job was anyway.  They are paying for a function and not for a body to stand somewhere.

The point of this article is not that everyone should have paid unlimited vacation time.  It is simply pointing out that some of business in America looks at things the wrong way, and everyone suffers as a result.  Having real accountability instead of counting hours can actually boost productivity as people have something to reach for.  This is merely indicating that sometimes the classic Corporate America business model can be maligned.