Unlimited Vacation: Not Always a Day at the Beach

July 21, 2020

The idea of unlimited vacation gained popularity a few years ago as large corporations like Netflix, Hubspot, and Linked in made national headlines for offering this benefit to employees. And while it may sound like a great option to get the attention of potential new hires, there are many factors to evaluate before adding it to your agency benefits package.

Before implementing unlimited vacation at your agency, be sure to consider the following carefully:

Unlimited Vacation Can Be Complicated –  

The word unlimited indicates that there is no limit to how much vacation an employee can take. However, it is not quite that simple. Agencies still need to have a written vacation policy. Without clear guidelines, agencies may find employees are confused and frustrated. Depending on an employee’s role at the agency, they may need to be accessible to clients. Without a clear understanding of the expectations with vacation day(s), employees may find themselves answering calls and emails for clients rather than completely stepping away from work.  

Developing a policy that defines vacation, explains how work should be shifted, and offers employees the flexibility they need will go a lot further to build a culture that helps employees achieve success at work and pursue fulfilling activities outside of the office.

Unlimited Vacation May Miss the Mark With Employees – 

Studies show that employees do not use unlimited vacation just because it is available. The average vacation offered in the US is currently around two weeks, and most employees do not even use that limited amount. Statistics show that 768 million hours of vacation went unused in the US in 2018. Agency employees are at risk of taking less vacation and not more even when allowed to have unlimited time off.  

Instead of offering an unlimited amount, put effort into getting employees to take a minimum number of days off. When employees are encouraged, even required, to take healthy breaks from work to recharge, they are happier, healthier, and more productive.  

Unlimited Vacation is Not a Hands-Free Policy – 

Unlimited vacation does not get managers off the hook of monitoring vacation usage. There are still valid reasons to know who is using vacation and when they are using it. While the primary concern may not be whether employees will abuse the privilege and not show up to work, it certainly is a risk. Making sure there is a healthy balance in scheduling to ensure that clients are receiving service and other team members are not being overwhelmed can quickly become a vacation micromanaging nightmare.   

An alternative option is to maintain the current vacation policy and leave the door open to discuss additional vacation on a case by case basis. This option allows managers an opportunity to make sure employees who are struggling to manage current workloads aren’t putting themselves in a position to get further behind, but are also able to reward top performers who may need an extra day or two in particular circumstances.

While Unlimited Vacation might appear to be a great option on the surface, it can create complications that make more work for managers and fails to deliver value to employees.  Investing time and money into resources that provide options employees need and want will go a long way in creating a happier agency that wins with employees.

For more thoughts on this and other topics, check out the full episode of The Independent Agent below!

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