The Vacation No-Policy

One of the things a fast growing company can do is constantly look to eliminate unnecessary policies and bureaucracy.   One place to look is your vacation policy:  having your employees track their vacation is demeaning and creates a lot of unnecessary bureaucracy. 
Companies like NetFlix, GroupOn, Flixster, and Rapleaf have adopted a new no-policy policy.  It is simple: take as much vacation as you want as long as it is approved by your manager.  Yes, that means that employees will likely take a few more days than the standard two weeks allotted to them.  But those extra days are great benefits to your employees (and rewards for working so hard).  And in this no-policy policy, vacation does not need to be tracked by HR or on payroll — so you save a lot of time and limit internal bureaucracy.  You trust your employees and their manager to do what’s best for the company.

12 thoughts on “The Vacation No-Policy

  1. KS

    This is an awful idea. You could have a workaholic manager who doesn’t approve any vacation and you then have no policy to guarantee you get even 2 weeks.

  2. Stuart Bailey

    Please can you provide a few more details as to how you got this to work and how people were engaged in it? How many employees work for hubSpot?

  3. lame

    2 Weeks of vacation is the minimal standard.
    A lot of companies have three weeks.
    I know two-weeks is standard for start-up company, but, don’t be so proud, just make you look lame.

  4. Auren Hoffman

    KS — This policy only works if you have both enlightened managers and enlightened employees. It is, of course, ripe for abuse. So you need to have A-Players in your company to make this work.
    From the tone of your comment, it sounds like you have a lot of experience in organizations with lots of B and C player. My advice is that you should quit and move to an organization that appreciates you.

  5. Yuta

    This is a wonderful policy limited to particular working environments. For example, I can see this being a plus in my R&D department; however, it would be disastrous for my manufacturing.

  6. Yuta Lee

    This may be a great policy for particular working environments. For example, while this would be great for my R&D department, it would be difficult to manage for my manufacturing.

  7. BeeB

    This kind of policy really benefits only the company, except eventually when productivity drops like a stone. No accrued vacation time means “take it or lose it.” That means no vac rollover or payout if you never take your 2-5 weeks. Nice for the company. And how about all the frowns and managerial disapproving looks when you take over 2 weeks, even if spread out. So maybe your next performance review will reflect “a lack of commitment to the company” or “is not a team player.” And imagine the amount of time managerial favorites will be allowed while you pick up the slack. If you think about it, even now people who take cigarette breaks during the day take about 15-20 minutes per break, and if they smoke just four cigs a day, they end working just 7 hours a day but get paid for 8! They effectively give themselves a raise! (40 hrs/week is 2080 work hours/year, but your pal who takes just 4 cig breaks a day works 1820 hrs/year. If you make the same money (say $45,000/yr) they are making an hourly rate of 24.72 to your 21.60.) A buddy taking just one vacation day off every other week will take what amounts to about 5 weeks vacation a year. And I expect they would feel entited to take an additional two “5 day in a row” vacations a year. So they would be taking 7 weeks vacation a year. If you take 2 weeks and they take 7 weeks, and you make the same money (say $45000/yr) they make $25/hour to your $22.50/hour. And if this is your cig smoking buddy they are making $28.57 per hour because they effectively working only 1575 hr/year. But hey, who’s counting?

  8. Auren Hoffman

    BeeB — the “vacation no-policy” only works in forward-thinking companies with forward-thinking employees. Companies like NetFlix, GroupOn, Flixster, Foursquare, and Rapleaf have super-talented employees that can leave at any time and have multiple job offers. So these companies NEED to keep their employees happy at all costs.
    It sounds like you are at a company that has a huge distrust between the executives and everyone else. You should strive to work for a company where there is trust between all levels of the organization. An organization that has high degrees of mutual respect should be able to overcome the issues you talk about.

  9. MGD

    We are a small start-up in California and implementing the “vacation no-policy”. Is it possible to get a copy of your policy on this?
    Thank you.


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