Encourage Employees to Take Much-Needed Vacations


Fool's ErrandAt The Fool we have a “take what you need” vacation policy. When we need a sick day, an extra day to get over jet lag, or to travel on off-peak days, no one in HR is counting our vacation time as long as we get our job done. And that line blurs even more as we get more tethered to our iThings. It’s not unusual for a Fool to check email in airports and take calls from home.

So how much vacation do you actually need?  Most Fools take between three and four weeks.  Some years Fools take more, some years we take less. Here’s the flip side: In a job where vacation time is limited, employees often feel like they need to optimize their free time and use all the time they’re allotted. Where vacation time is “free” it’s hard to tell if it’s ever okay to take any. Some Fools don’t really take much at all, and because we are all so connected we often forget to take a break.

To counteract some Fools’ tendencies to never take a vacation, we implemented a unique benefit called “The Fool’s Errand,” a monthly randomized drawing where the winner gets two consecutive, paid, no-contact-with-work weeks off. And it has to be taken within the month. So you’ve got two weeks to plan a two-week vacation and get all your ducks in a row before you leave.

Besides being a great surprise for one Fool each month, there’s also specific business purpose to the Fool’s Errand: It’s a great way to test our sustainability in a fun way. Typically an unplanned absence is a result of something unpleasant like illness, and only then the team learns where the single points of failure are. This way Fools can get a much needed and enjoyable break, while we as a company can make sure everyone is cross-trained in the event someone on our team needs to take time off unexpectedly.

What is your company’s policy on vacation? How do they encourage (or discourage) employees to take vacations and breaks?

Kara Chambers wrote this post before embarking on her very own Fool’s Errand! Her colleagues and her dog miss her very much but we all hope she has fun.

About Kara Chambers

Fool Talent Scout/VP People Strategy at The Motley Fool

3 Responses to “Encourage Employees to Take Much-Needed Vacations”

  1. Not only is this a great policy for employees, it is beneficial to employers because it increases loyalty, job satisfaction and even efficiency. I wish more companies would follow the Fool’s lead…until then I’ll keep watching your job feed!

  2. Very interesting. At my previous employer, I could take time off, but nobody could cover for me, so I ended up working 20-30 hour weeks while on vacation!

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