The Take What You Need Policy

Posted on: Jun 04, 2015

Categories: Leadership

vacationpolicyI recently heard about a 500-person company on the east coast that doesn’t have a vacation policy for its employees. Actually, it does, but the entire policy is just four words: “Take what you need.”

Most companies nowadays start their employees around two or three weeks, then slowly add to that amount as they increase in seniority. This isn’t a bad system. It implies that time off is something to be earned, and that the more loyal an employee is to the company by staying for multiple years, the more they are rewarded.

But there’s also something beautiful in the open-handed freedom of the “take what you need” policy, where an employee who needs two days or two weeks off can take it without it affecting their salary. It says to the employees, “We trust that you are intelligent, hard-working people. We trust you won’t take off more time than you need. We trust you will get your work done.”

In addition to showing faith in the employees’ good judgment, it also demonstrates that vacation and rest is in fact a need. Employees who never take time off, never unwind, never turn their cell phones off and escape are not good employees—they are frantic, exhausted employees.

You might wonder what happens to a company’s productivity when it lets employees take off as much time as they want without it affecting their pay, but I can tell you that this company is number one in its field, and the people who work there are happy and productive.

The “take what you need” policy may not work for everyone–whether or not an employee will respond well to it depends on a number of factors. But what I hope you do walk away from this post with is a good reminder that you should hire people you’re willing to trust—trust that they want to be there, want to work hard, want to see the company succeed and grow.

What kinds of freedom could you consider giving your employees? Where are you—perhaps unconsciously—micromanaging with your employees, rather than trusting that they’ll act like mature, passion-driven adults? Think about it this week, and test the waters—give them some freedom, and you may just see their loyalty, positivity, and productivity grow.

*Image courtesy Luke Ma

You Might Also Like

Mime posing in the spotlight on stage

Why Every Leader Should Learn to Mime

I’ve had the privilege of working with dozens of Fortune 500 companies in my speaking career. For all that these businesses are doing right and for all of their ingenuity, I’m always disheartened to hear…

Read More
Crowd of adults juggling

How Juggling Changes Lives

Brightly dressed children shouting and laughing flood the streets. Live music plays underneath the crowd’s cheers. Balls and batons are flying through the air. As the sun sets, some brave children begin tossing…

Read More
Meeting at a coffee shop

Why You Need to Make Yourself Available

At a certain point in your career, people are going to want to schedule meetings with you, take you to lunch, use you as a sounding board and ask your advice.  They’re going…

Read More