Vive la révolution! Unlimited vacation days for all!
It's no secret that Americans are behind other countries when it comes to work-life balance, as evidenced by France’s recent move to make it a major faux pas to work after 6 p.m.
And while that may sound extreme, 134 countries put us to shame with laws that restrict the work week to a maximum number of hours. In fact, according to a recent study conducted by Harris Interactive for Ask.com, Americans work 490 more hours per year than their French counterparts.
But this doesn’t have to be the case. A number of American companies are taking steps toward an enlightened philosophy of work-life balance. Take, for example, the people at social engagement startup Mass Relevance. The company abides by a principle it calls "Freesponsibility," which allows employees unlimited vacation time and no set work hours.
CEO Sam Decker defends this policy as not simply being built on a foundation of blind trust, but it is also built on a psychological and social phenomenon called the Pygmalion Effect.
"The Pygmalion Effect says that the more trust you put in someone, the more they will fulfill that trust," Decker says.
Trusting its employees with hardly any company policy at all, GoHealth insurance company recently recorded a 200% increase in growth. Michael Mahoney, GoHealth’s senior vice president of marketing, contends that with an unlimited vacation policy, employees can schedule vacation more strategically based on their workload.
"When you consider when you can best take vacation as opposed to when you must, you end up able to take time off without affecting performance," he says.
Like Mahoney, more than a third of adults considered unlimited time off a deciding factor when it comes to taking or keeping a job. Without vacation time, your health, happiness, and imagination suffer, leading to burnout, poor engagement, and a lack of innovation. And by not managing people's vacation time, companies can save 52 hours a year, leaving more time for HR to recruit and engage employees.
If the case for an unlimited vacation policy still seems unclear, check out this infographic compiled by Ask.com. Maybe it’s time to take a page out of France’s book and bring a little more balance to our lives.