Go. Go on vacation. Here’s a pile of cash and don’t you dare check in.

Steve Boese Audacious Ideas, Benefits, Policies, Steve Boese, Work Life Balance

Did you happen to catch the story that made the rounds last week of the company that is paying every employee $7,500 to force/convince/entice them to take an actual annual, completely disconnected from work vacation?


Well in case you were on vacation yourself and missed it, here are the details.

Contact management company Full Contact’s ‘Paid, Paid’ vacation program, announced in a blog post from company co-founder Brad Lorang works like this:

Once per year each employee is given $7,500 to go on vacation, subject to the following rules:

1. You have to go on vacation, or you don’t get the money
2. You must disconnect
3. You can’t work while on vacation

And that’s it. A nice chunk of cash to get away from work, to disconnect, to recharge and do all the kinds of things you always feel like you’re too busy to do, (and perhaps your family and friends are bugging you to do).

Sure, there is a little bit of ‘stunt perk’ to this, and Full Contact is definitely getting the benefit of a ton of good press from this program, (certainly might help them fill the dozen or so openings they are advertising), but this scheme also reminds us there can be great value for any firm willing to try a similar program, not even including the $7,500 sweetener if budget isn’t there for that kind of largesse and just focusing on the ‘no work’ aspects.

Would you be willing to ‘force’ people to take vacation, and not just take vacation, but completely disconnect from work?

If you’re brave enough to try, I bet you’d learn several important things like:

1. Who actually is pretty darn critical around here. And you don’t find that out by just asking the individual about what would happen if they were totally out of contact for a week or two. You also need to ask the rest of the team as well.  Asking the rest of the team what would happen id Mary Jane was out of touch for two weeks can also help reveal some additional insight, namely…

2. Who thinks they are pretty darn critical around here even if no one else does, or might either have an inflated set of self-importance, by working cleverly and strategically over time, (via information hoarding, keeping key external contacts to themselves, leveraging ‘undocumented features’ about process or technology known only to them, demonstrated willingness to ‘own’ certain essential, but less pleasant tasks, etc.), to achieve a kind of ‘This place just wouldn’t function without him’ reputation.

3. Who might have a little problem with Work/Life Balance or Work/Life ‘fit’ or whatever the current trendy term is for what we used to simply refer to as being a workaholic. If a team member starts to push back a little too hard about a relatively short period of forced disconnection, then that might be a signal of deeper problems, and the potential loss of perspective or even burnout.

Lastly, making a surgical and clean break from work, (again no calls, no emails, no nothing), just seems to be a reasonable thing to do to preserve everyone’s sanity. I’ll bet you can list off the names of about 5 people right off the top of your head that you need a break from yourself. And don’t be fooled, your name is on some of those lists too.

What do you think FOT nation – should companies force an annual vacation/disconnect from work?

Do you totally disconnect when you are on vacation?

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