Vacations are the promise land. Few and far between, there’s that moment in time where you suddenly don’t have any weddings to go to, the holidays are months off, and you’ve somehow maneuvered your life into a position where you think, “Hey, I can take a little time to do me.” But then logistics get in the way. What do you need to do to prepare your coworkers for your short absence? Is it even worth preparing for three weeks just to go bookend a weekend and sleep on your friend’s couch? What about the vacation guilt that plagues you and the mid-vacay anxiety about coming back? You wonder if it’s just easier to be the pawn that keeps their head down without making a peep.
Well, that’s not the case at SteelHouse, a marketing and advertising company where Mark Douglas (their CEO) has implemented a vacation policy that will make you foam at the mouth with jealousy. In 2011, he decided he’d actually pay his employees to take vacations rather than leave them with the internal tug of war. His employees already had unlimited vacation, but much like several other companies out there who offer the same benefit, employees didn’t take noticeably more vacation days. In fact, most employees with said policy take less time off.
To stoke the fire and shift the momentum, Douglas made a policy change for the better. As described by Business Insider:
If you work at SteelHouse, the company will pay you $2,000 a year to go anywhere in the world and do anything you want (provided it’s not illegal). You can spread it out across multiple trips or blow it all at once; Douglas leaves it up to the team member.
“Our culture is really simple,” he said. “It’s based on trust and ambition.”
The trust goes both ways, he adds. Employees who buy their plane tickets on a Monday will get reimbursed by Tuesday. If it can’t front the cash, SteelHouse will let them use the company credit card to book the flight. Once people return from their trips, they can submit their expenses for reimbursement up to the $2,000 cap.
Yep, $2,000. In their employees’ pockets. And before you get all huffy and say, “Why don’t they just pay their employees $2,000 more a year and let them do whatever they want with it?” Well, as Douglas explained, “I actually want you to go somewhere and enjoy yourself.” And no one’s complaining – out of the 250 employees at SteelHouse, only three have left in the past five years. By not offering to give their employees a bonus if the money goes unused, it forces them to get out of the office and expand their horizons. Otherwise? It’s just going down the drain.
But hey, upon returning from your $2,000 paid vacation, you’ll still probably get that same feeling of dread. The only difference is your bank account will have a little more to it once you show up to the office with a killer tan. .
[via Business Insider]