Vacation Innovation

September 4th, 2007

Beachvacation_3 Tired of hoarding vacation days and justifying every moment out of the office? Maybe you should send your resume to IBM. At IBM, every employee gets three weeks or more of annual vacation time and the company doesn’t keep track of how much time is taken. The downside is that IBM also doesn’t let workers carry vacation day over from year to year. You either use it or you lose it.

According to a recent New York Times article about the policy, IBM employees like the accountability and rate the firm’s laid-back attitude toward work and vacations as a top reason for staying at IBM.

Of course, some IBM employees interviewed for the article didn’t seem to be making the most out of their vacation freedom. Several noted that they check their voice mail and email frequently while on vacation and that bosses sometimes ask staff members to cancel time off in order to meet deadlines. Some complained that heavy work loads made it difficult to take much time off at all.

I think IBM’s policy is a step in the right direction. A corporate-wide attitude of flexibility toward time off can only be a good thing. However, it’s also important for work loads to be reasonable and for all managers to encourage their staff members to take time off when it’s due to them. Innovative policies only get results when people are actually allowed to use them.

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I work for IBM and the whole vacation thing is a scam. They give a lot of vacation time but they won’t let you use it. I’ve been here for over a year now and they won’t let me go on leave and they don’t pay for overtime, and they don’t give holiday pay either (and they make you work on holidays).


Thanks for your comment. I have heard from some other IBMers that the company pressures people into not taking all of their vacation time. It just goes to show that it’s not enough for companies to have great policies on paper if employees can’t use the benefits without risking career fallout.

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