For many companies, there's no bigger concern than ensuring that every employee is present, and that their work is accounted for, on a daily basis. But a number of small businesses and larger corporations are starting to institute policies that fly directly in the face of conventional wisdom: they offer their employees the ability to take vacation days at their leisure, with no maximum amount of absences.
According to statistics provided by the Society for Human Resource Management and reported by Fox Business, only 3 percent of employers currently have unlimited vacation policies in place. That's an increase from the 2 percent who reported using such a policy during 2012. However, for many businesses, the question of whether such a policy could help them improve their production remains unanswered.
"It really just depends on the culture of the company and the nature of the work," said Christina Gomez, a partner at the law firm Holland & Hart, testifying that unlimited vacation plans would only benefit certain industries.
It's not a plan that works for everyone. But if your business fits the bill for any or all of the five traits listed below, a flexible vacation schedule could be the best bet for you, your employees and your bottom line.
You need to offer your employees an attractive perk
The most obvious reason to offer your employees unlimited vacation time is simple—you want to give them a perk that they can't find anywhere else. As long as you can trust that they won't abuse the privilege, this is a conceit that looks excellent as part of a job offer—and could help sway the next industry leader you try to attract to your firm. And best of all, assuming your employees will keep up with their work, the incentive should come at no cost whatsoever. It may even drive workers to produce at a faster rate than they would otherwise.
"It enables companies to provide an additional job 'perk' with little to no added cost, because the idea is that even if employees are taking more vacation time than they used to, they are more productive during the time they are at work," said Gomez. "It can improve efficiency and productivity, by incentivizing employees to get their work done more efficiently so that they can take time off."
You have a flexible work-from-home policy
If you have a flexible work-from-home policy, you may already be prepared to offer your employees unlimited vacation time. But if they work jobs disconnected from the rest of your office, and tend to autonomously work on their own assignments, then the transition into unlimited and unplanned vacation time could come very easily.
Your workers are passionate about their jobs
For small businesses with high turnover rates, odds are the risks of offering unlimited vacation time outweigh the rewards. But if your workers are as dedicated to bettering your offerings as you are, you can be sure that they won't run off for a vacation on a day when you need them.
Michael Garber, a founding partner at the Southern Growth Studio, told the Fox Business reporter that by hiring the type of workers who are passionate about your product, you can ensure that they won't abuse the offer of unrecorded time off.
"We hire passionate people that identify with their work," he explained, testifying to his business' success with the plan. "Empower the people and they will give their best."
You don't operate on daily quotas
It also goes without saying that the type of business that can offer unlimited vacation time is decided by the type of work your employees are doing. For companies that rely on daily quotas or predetermined meetings regularly, unplanned vacation days could do more harm to the business than they do good for the employee. But if your workers have track their quotas monthly, or do most of their work individually, your company may be better suited to make the offer.
Most of all, you trust your employees
Experience and trust also goes a long way—you'll want your employees to earn this privilege. You wouldn't offer a kid working an entry level finance job unlimited time off, but it may be a perk worth affording for top performers working in challenging positions like risk management jobs or hedge fund jobs.
Jay Jamrog, the senior vice president of research at the Institute for Corporate Productivity, promised the Wall Street Journal that the most important part of instituting an untracked vacation day policy is having trust in your team.
"You have to have a high-trust culture," he said. "If that culture is not there, I can really see how people would abuse the system."