If you had the option of getting a huge salary every year and little vacation, or getting a smaller salary and $2000 of vacation stipend, which would you choose? While everyone’s preferences are certainly different, it appears that getting money for vacation from your work is a big incentive for a job well done. When Americans earn paid time off or vacations hours in the business world today, they are often hesitant to use it. Many workaholics fear that taking even well-deserved time off will result in undesirable consequences. Mark Douglas is the CEO of SteelHouse, a marketing and advertising company, and has quite the opposite opinion of vacation time.
SteelHouse Paid Vacation Policy
When explaining his take on vacation time, Douglas told Business Insider, “If you have a caged lion that was born in captivity, and then you open the cage, they back up more into the cage. They don’t start running free.” He went on to explain, “When we first started telling people they had unlimited vacation, they didn’t even know how to interpret that.” (1)
This is easily understandable. Have you ever worked at a company willing to give you as much vacation time as you could possibly want? Have you ever even been able to work at a company that didn’t make a fuss about you taking time off, or offered any vacation time to begin with? Few people are well accustomed to decent managers, bosses, and company structures. It almost goes without saying that Douglas’ generosity in terms of vacation time would throw some employees for a loop.
SteelHouse first launched back in 2010. And by 2011, Douglas had figured out the key to business success: pay employees to take a vacation. He decided that if you work at SteelHouse, you will be paid $2,000 every year in order to go anywhere in the world and do anything you want to do (anything legal, of course). According to company policy, an employee can spread their vacation money across multiple trips or all at once, whichever they prefer. As Douglas says, “Our culture is really simple. It’s based on trust and ambition.” (1)
Vacation Policy Produces Results!
The reason trust is required for this vacation policy is that the company with either reimburse employees for their vacation purchases or be offered the company credit card to book their trip accommodations. There is a $2,000 cap for the vacation, but otherwise, employees have free reign. According to Douglas, there have been plenty of employees who have asked for a $2,000 bonus since they didn’t want the vacation time, but Douglas is adamant about the purpose of the money. Douglas says, “I actually want you to go somewhere and enjoy yourself.” (1)
The fascinating thing about Douglas’ plan is that it actually resulted in far less employee turnover! Only five people out of the 250 total employees have left the company since it’s beginning, three of which left for entirely unrelated reasons than job specifications. According to Douglas, the company has “virtually zero turnover.” Not only that, but the employees who’ve stayed are far more productive when they’re able to recharge on their paid vacations. (1)
According to Douglas, “It’s one thing to say ‘You have three weeks vacation,’ as most companies do. It’s another thing to say ‘You have cash, and if you don’t go on vacation and spend this money, the money literally goes to waste.’ It’s another level of saying this is real.” Douglas’ policy is inspired entirely out of his own favorited experiences from his own personal vacations, leading him to believe his employees would benefit, too. He also believes that other industries are capable of implementing similar policies. (1)
While not everyone enjoys travel and not every employee wants a vacation, there must be something truly spectacular about an employer willing to support you and your adventures. Perhaps Douglas’ inspiring goal will encourage more companies to implement better employee-oriented policies.