Posted on Oct. 14, 2015 at 5 p.m.
by Mackenzie Lyng.
Like “unlimited” phone data or the right to eat sweets all day because your parents can’t tell you, “No, that’s enough dear,” unlimited vacation days are not as phenomenal as they seem.
LinkedIn is the latest company to offer its 6,000 U.S. employees “discretionary time off,” or in corporate HR-terms, “DTO.” Beginning Nov. 1, the professional networking site will allow any LinkedIn employee to take as much time off as they want every year.
Well … sort of.
According to LinkedIn Chief Human Resource Officer Pat Wadors, the purpose of this decision is to “empower employees to make their own decisions without being micromanaged,” she said. Wadors adds that LinkedIn employees are adults who are capable of making independent decisions.
While LinkedIn’s unlimited vacation days support employee independence, the new policy strengthens internal relations and trust between workers and managers.
But like all internal policies, there are limits. Employees cannot designate an alternative work schedule, such as working three-day weeks. They cannot take six months off strictly for vacation days. A six-month absence, according to LinkedIn’s HR policy, is considered a leave of absence. Additionally, employees must proactively work out their days off with their superiors.
So really, it’s not an unlimited vacation but more of a push and pull between employees and managers. Employees must designate in advance how much time to take off without impacting their own work schedules and those of their co-workers, while still convincing their superiors that they’re dedicated to their jobs. Managers foster an open dialogue by providing positive feedback and reassurance to their employees.
LinkedIn joins other employers who give vacation freedom to their workers, including Netflix and General Electric Co.
The truth of unlimited vacation days is that companies end up pushing employees to take less time off. Last month, Kickstarter booted its unlimited vacation policy for this very reason. Employees felt pressured to work more days during the year. Kickstarter replaced its old policy by offering its employees 25 vacation days per year, almost a whole month!
While some employees feel pressured to work more days, others feel differently. Companies who implement unlimited vacation day policies trust their employees will not take advantage of them. But for these type of policies to work, employees must also trust their superiors.
Along with LinkedIn’s new policy, employees will get the entire week of July 4 off as well as Christmas through New Year’s. Wardors calls these vacation timeouts “anchor points.” By implementing these enforced work breaks, the company ensures its employees get at least some vacation time during the year.
In general terms, Americans do not take enough vacation days throughout the year. Even when companies specify vacation times, many workers leave many vacation days unused. So, it’s good when managers tell employees to take time off, whether it’s a vacation or R&R. Everyone deserves days without work, whether you choose when you want off or if your boss is forcing you out of the office.