Trust

At I.B.M., a Vacation Anytime, or Maybe None: "For the past few years, employees at all levels have made informal arrangements with their direct supervisors, guided mainly by their ability to get their work done on time." -- New York Times

There are other companies cited in the article doing interesting things in HR as well. Sun in the U.S. does a very good job on this issue, too. It all comes down to trust and treating people like adults. But the article also cites the influence of "peer pressure" at work. Pressure -- both good and bad -- among peers probably influences your productivity as much as any corporate policy directed down from the top. So we can't always blame the company if we are treating each other like children. Fortunately, there are usually more than enough really excellent role models to hang out with so the anti-bodies aren't so bad.
Comments:

I read this and thought that it would be a great idea for Sun as a company, if not for the employees. For the last few years, Sun has been urging it's employee's to take vacation. This is largely because unused vacation time is counted in the accounts payable leadger and counts against your bottom line at a time that we could ill afford any extra expense. On average, Sun employees tend not to take as much vacation as they are allowed, so having employees take too much isn't likely to be a problem, and it would knock that chunk of accounts payable off in one fell swoop.

Posted by Brian Utterback on September 04, 2007 at 02:15 PM JST #

Unfortunately IBM's policy of no fixed vacation completely blurs the distinction between one's work and non-work life. For those who are consumed (and perhaps defined) by their work, having such a policy works out just fine. For the rest of us it is much more problematic. A lot of this depends upon the outlook (quality) of management.

It does raise all sorts of issues though when staff don't take earned vacations. This begs the question as to why not. Is it because employees are afraid of stepping away from the office for any period of time (fear of falling behind due to too much work, fear of being left of decision-making ...) or is it because they have no substantial social/cultural life outside of the work environment and taking time off is not very rewarding.

Posted by Roger on September 04, 2007 at 05:07 PM JST #

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