In this day and age, the hard-working culture which has been instilled in our society means many of us end up living to work, rather than working to live.
Even when we get presented the chance of taking some well-deserved time off, we fear the repercussions from our superiors or workmates. You could be considered lazy or may even be overlooked for future promotion opportunities.
But Mark Douglas, CEO of the marketing and advertising company SteelHouse, is trying to change all that.
Business Insider reports that back in 2010, when SteelHouse launched, Douglas decided to give all his employees unlimited vacation time – but it didn’t quite go to plan.
Speaking to Business Insider, he said:
If you have a caged lion that was born in captivity, and then you open the cage, they back up more into the cage. They don’t start running free. When we first started telling people they had unlimited vacation, they didn’t even know how to interpret that.
Fast forward a year and Douglas soon realised what he had to do – he had to pay his staff to take a vacation.
So that’s exactly what he did. Now, the company will pay you $2,000 a year to go anywhere in the world and you can do whatever you want (within reason).
The employees also have the option of spreading the money across several trips or they can just splash out on one massive blow-off holiday. It’s completely up to them.
The level of trust from the company towards its employees is at another level. If the workers can’t front the cash, to then be reimbursed the day after, they’re allowed to buy their plane tickets using the company credit card. How good is that?
But this gesture of goodwill still doesn’t stop some employees saying they don’t need the time off and asking for a $2,000 bonus instead – but Douglas isn’t a fan of that.
As you’d expect, this incentive has a seriously good effect on the business. The staff retention is at a ridiculously high level – only five people out of 250 have left the company in the past three years, and they found that workers tended to be more productive once back from their travels.
Douglas believes that this policy could be implemented in all industries, but he thinks a lot of companies would see the idea as ‘scary’. He hopes that some of his current employees one day run companies that have similarly forward-thinking policies.
It’s one thing to say ‘You have three weeks vacation,’ like most companies do. It’s another thing to say ‘You have cash, and if you don’t go on vacation and spend this money, the money literally goes to waste.’ It’s another level of saying this is real.
I only have one question – where do I apply?