Unlimited vacation policies are no longer a foreign notion. Sure, some of my friends working in more traditional corporate environments are still in awe of my company’s unlimited PTO policy, but they’ve heard enough by now to know that unlimited vacation is a very real and growing phenomenon and job perk. As more and more companies do away with the standard two-weeks, use ’em or lose ’em days, it’s probably only a matter of time before most of us are accepting job offers that give us plentiful time off to recharge and reboot.
One reason I say this is because, suddenly, for one company at least, not even an unlimited vacation policy is enough. Denver tech company FullContact, an app developer that seeks to help its users manage their contacts, has implemented a mandatory three-week vacation policy along with a bonus payment of $7,500.
What’s the catch?
Well, not what you might expect. The CEO Bart Lorang says that the bonus money is only given if employees fully disconnect and unplug from their work. That means no checking email, no participating in company chats, no digging into work projects while on holiday.
Fully unplugging, some research has suggested, is necessary for recharging one’s batteries. But because it can be difficult to really let go of work and focus solely on you or your family, even when you’re on a hard-earned vacation, Lorang’s bonus offering attempts to make it easier to do so. It also aims to take the guilt out of going away and leaving the office behind.
He’s clearly thinking about retention and about how his staff can be most productive while they’re actually in the office. This is certainly one way of retaining loyalty and building up a team that’s 100% on when they’re expected to be on, and well, off, when they’re supposed to be off.
Other companies are finding their own ways to show employees that they think a vacation should be just that. For example, HomeAway (who is hiring right now!) might not pay for your trip, but the organization’s vacation policy makes it clear just how much it values your time away from your desk. You get four weeks a year, plus 10 holidays, plus two days to volunteer at your favorite nonprofit.
Making a vacation a real, true vacation is not an absurd notion, but our constant email-checking, social-media following mindsets may find it hard to grasp. I hope more companies follow in FullContact’s footsteps, but even if your current policy isn’t so sweet, you should still at the very least make sure you use your days! And when you take them—be it a trip abroad or a staycation, do yourself a favor and disconnect. You’ll be better for it when you return to your desk, and who knows, it might just be prep for if you ever find yourself employed by a company that has decided to pay you to take that non-optional vacation.