Richard Branson, the founder and Chairman of the Virgin group, recently announced that employees at his company would have unlimited vacation days. He posted the news on his website and according to the new rules employees can take off whenever they want for as long as they want. Managers aren’t even required to keep track of the attendance records of employees. Branson told Time Magazine that the new vacation policy has been instituted under “the assumption being that they are only going to do it when they feel a hundred per cent comfortable that they and their team are up to date on every project and that their absence will not in any way damage the business.” Raise your hand if you’ve stopped reading this in order to go to Virgin’s website to see if they have any positions available. My hand is raised. Branson also told Time, “The flexible hours employees were working both in the office and at home already make it hard to track how many hours they’re working anyway.” This has only been instituted at head offices so there are still 50,000 Virgin employees with a normal vacation package. Netflix has a similar policy and this is what Branson said influenced him. Many people think this decision is insane but there’s some serious psychology behind it. One would have to assume that employees, even though they’ve been told this is policy, have to be reluctant, have to think it’s too good to be true which while I’m sure they use their vacation days freely, they probably don’t take advantage. And despite what is said about managers not being required to pay attention to the attendance of their subordinates, I’m fairly certain a lot planning goes into somebody leaving for a month or two as to not leave their co-workers holding the bag. Linda DeVito, who works for the XO Group, which also has an unlimited vacation policy, told ABC News about a year ago, “You just get what you have to get done. You’re accountable to your team. You don’t want to let your team down. You want to collaborate.” Basically it’s not a free for all and I’m sure a lot of time and planning goes into a high level executive taking a 6 week-long vacation. Nonetheless, it’s amazing. Planning or no planning, who cares? I’d stand on my head and sing show tunes to work for a company that had an unlimited vacation policy. It’s not hard to see why it works and I’m sure industrial and organizational psychologists studied the hell out of this before giving it the okay. The policy really does take a lot of pressure off of hard working employees and while I’m sure many use it to take regular extended vacations, there certainly a bunch that likely just take a day or two in order to recharge their batteries. The unlimited vacation time kind of provides an invisible structure that makes employees stay on top of their work. They also don’t need to feel trapped like their two weeks a year vacation counterparts so this must make for a happier employee. It’s a wonderful policy as there are people who go their whole lives not doing something because of the restrictions placed on them by their job. People may think Branson might be insane for this latest move but he’s always been a forward thinking risk taker in terms of business so I applaud him and say, Sir Richard Branson, may I please have a job?
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