Yo, you just landed a plum new job -- congrats! Decent salary, health insurance, snacks in the pantry, a dog-friendly office, and what’s this? Unlimited vacation? Doesn’t get any sweeter than that.
But slow your roll a sec. Before you start dreaming of German-style holidays to Southeast Asia twice a year, it’s worth knowing what you’re getting into. In most workplaces, the dream of “unlimited” vacation sounds much sexier to employees (and to the media) than its reality. The big winner in companies with unlimited vacation policies? Employers, actually, who get more out of the arrangement than you might expect.
“The benefit to organizations is greater than the benefit to the individual,” said Rob Ferguson, a psychologist and management consultant who co-authored the book Making Conflict Work.
“Let’s say the company you work for guarantees you 21 days per year, and you take only seven of those and you leave,” Ferguson said. Most companies would have to pay you out for those unused days, or they’d roll over. But under unlimited vacation policies, “the company is saving an enormous amount of money by not having to pay out benefits. The books look better, profits look better, and there’s no financial benefit to the employee.”