Unlimited Vacations: Amazing Perk or Just Another Trap?

It’s already happening: some employers across America are now adding unlimited paid vacations to their benefits package. Awesome! Wait, what?

Yes, it is true. Netflix, Hubspot, and Evernote launched this corporate trend a few years back in the USA. Many companies in Canada, particularly tech startups, have already adopted this policy and are already seeing its benefits.


Awesome! But why?

It’s easy to see why an employee would enjoy this policy. But why would an employer do? Many motivations can combine to persuade a company to offer unlimited vacations to its employees: increase employees’ morale, increase productivity, avoid vacation accumulation, offer a better work-life balance, build loyalty, and of course, attract new talents. Read more about the employer’s perspective in our previous article on the subject.

As an employee, this situation can be very enjoyable. Can you imagine? Never having to choose between that spring break with the kids, this winter skiing trip or the usual camping in August. Imagine never have to worry about taking a day off when you get sick. Imagine just be able to take a long weekend when you are feeling too overwhelmed. I believe we can all agree that such a job “perk” can largely elevate your life quality and general well-being.

It’s amazing because…

When this policy is well established and is a good fit for the company, it’s a total win-win. Employees are stress-free and living their life to the fullest, while they are becoming more loyal and devoted to the employer that allows them to do so. Productivity is stable (if not increasing) because employees have more energy and want to optimize their time at the office by working faster.

If you often feel like you have so much to give to your employer, but feel too exhausted to really give your 100%; if you want to experience life and spend time with your friends and family, but also want a fulfilling career; if you are torn between work and life, the unlimited vacation policy is for you.


But is it really?!

Although unlimited vacations sound amazing, it may not be so great for all kinds of businesses, or all kinds of employees. If you work in a very competitive environment, or if you are a workaholic, chances are that you won’t benefit so much from this privilege, and won’t have more vacation time. You may even feel like you have to do more work than usual in order to deserve those vacations you are now the one who decides. Some people can only truly feel relaxed on their vacations when those are earned, and could only feel guilty if they were simply allowed.

Maybe you will simply manage your time poorly and won’t be able to take more vacations than before, and feel frustrated that others are able to do it. Maybe senior employees will feel betrayed that they now do not have more vacation privileges than the newest employee.

Maybe your boss is trying out this policy for the wrong reasons, doesn’t really trust his employees, and has a clear idea in mind of what is acceptable and what is not. (And of course, would absolutely miss out on communicating it with you before the situation gets very awkward!)

Maybe you will be very motivated by this policy, be extra energetic and efficient, be away one week a month to discover the world. And maybe people, who don’t understand the motivation mechanism that empowers you, will start to wonder if maybe you are not busy enough. Or if your position is really this crucial to the company.

See, it is easy to get penalized by this although very nice benefit.  


So, should I want this or not?

It depends! Depends on the type of job you have, the kind of employee you are, the kind of boss/colleague you have, but mostly, the company culture at your office. If your company’s values reflect honestly, passion, hard work, and engagement, unlimited vacations may definitely be worth a try!


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