The Best Vacation Package Comes From A Somewhat Surprising Place
The company that offers the most humane and effective vacation package is not Netflix. According to Bloomberg’s Megan McArdle, hot-shot tech companies that offer unlimited vacation time are like the TV producers of “The Biggest Loser.” They set out gorgeous, all-you-can-eat buffets for their contestants, knowing full well that the powerful internal and external rules that govern their contestants — the rules that bring them onto the show in the first place — will restrain them from indulging.
In other words, at Silicon Valley and other “superjobs,” staffed by Type A workaholics, unlimited vacation amounts to no vacation.
The people who do these jobs have a very high level of commitment to their work, partly because the people who do them tend to be hard-working, and partly because being a successful professional is such a deep part of their personal identity and ethos.
Superjobs are arguably the reason for a startling recent phenomenon: for the first time in history, the wealthy have less leisure than the poor. If your company mostly provides superjobs, it’s safe to give people any number of vacation days, because they probably won’t take them anyway.
So what company offers the ideal vacation set up? As McArdle tells us, it’s the magazine The Economist.
There is, however, one company that managed to get me to take all of my vacation: the Economist. It had a serious mandatory vacation policy. We got five weeks of vacation, and taking it was mandatory. Really mandatory: Every year I was required to take most of December off when it was discovered that I had once again failed to take enough vacation in the previous 11 months.
That’s three uses of the word “mandatory” in one paragraph. I’m impressed. I guess The Economist really was serious about getting people to get away from their desks occasionally, and I guess they made that clear. No surprise, the magazine is based in England.
BTW, if I had a job that insisted I take five weeks of vacation a year, I’d be more loyal than a damn dog. I’d follow it around with an idiotic smile on my face, offer to fetch, bring it its slippers, anything.