From time to time I like to use this blogspace to speak about a seemingly outlandish human resources policy that has overwhelmingly succeeded, and explore how an HVACR distributor might apply that principle (not the policy) in a positive way.


I believe it was my first blog post for HARDI that I told you that Zappos no longer uses job titles, or an organizational chart. Here’s another doozy for you: Netflix allows their employees to take unlimited vacation days.


What would you do with unlimited vacation days? More importantly, how would you feel about the company who trusted you enough to allow you unlimited vacation days?


According to the executives at Netflix, just because there’s flexibility at the company doesn’t mean it lacks accountability. In fact, quite the opposite is true. The company is so ingrained with a high-performance culture that it states that it “rewards mediocrity with a generous severance package.” Netflix asserts that Instead of micromanaging how people get their jobs done, the leadership focuses only on what matters—results. They’ve found that giving people greater autonomy creates a more responsible culture. Without the distraction of stifling rules, employees are more focused and productive.


Now, to you. You run service environments where employees need to be present in a certain time and space. Can you offer unlimited vacation days? Probably not. But, can you get yourself one step closer to an accountability culture that measures performance and not adherence to outdated policies?


As a test, get out your performance review questions. How many of them measure policy adherence and/or activity: timeliness, dress code, call volume, etc. How many of them measure results: sales volume, accuracy, customer satisfaction, etc.


For anyone curious, it turns out that while Netflix employees are allowed and encouraged to take more time off, the average vacation days used per employee still measures at less than two weeks. And one final depressing word on vacation time: U.S employees get less vacation time than workers in any country, except South Korea. (I’ll save this rant for another day.)


For my last vacation, last summer my husband and I took the girls (then 1 and 3) to a beach house for a week. Results achieved during my “vacation” include: amount of time relaxing: 0 minutes, stress reduction: -25%, new gray hairs: 5. Number of future vacations planned: 0.

  1. July 14, 2016

    Great post, Emily. I have two millennial daughters who are in the working world now, and it does seem that the tide is shifting on vacation policies. We’re in the process of re-writing ours. We won’t be going to unlimited, but we do know that time away from the office is good for employee and employer. My daughters each got three weeks in year one of their jobs…something for all of us to think about as we try to attract new talent. And don’t worry-as your girls get older, vacations will get a bit more relaxing!

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