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Employees must have unlimited vacations

Find out how Netflix increased the productivity of its team with an unusual work schedule.

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process. Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Since 2004, Netflix employees have taken every vacation they wanted. They have the freedom to decide when to report to work, when to take days off, and how much time to spend on a project to deliver it by the set date. I think we can all see that this policy has not hurt the company that now encompasses a $ 51 billion market at all.

Just because there is this flexibility does not mean that there is no liability on Netflix . Employees must be in constant communication with their bosses and, since they have this freedom, they are expected to perform with excellence. In fact, the high quality expected of the work of this company's employees is so deeply embedded in its corporate culture that those who barely perform “well” are fired.

Netflix employees have unlimited vacation days because no one is measuring the minutes they spend at their desk. Instead of micromanaging what their employees do every moment of the day, the company 's top executives focus on the only thing that really matters: consistent and resounding results. They found that giving employees autonomy generates a culture of high responsibility for their own work. Without the distractions of stifling rules, Netflix workers are more focused and more productive.

Why change the traditional scheme?

When Netflix had a typical vacation policy, its employees asked an important question:

"We never measure the time we spend in the company outside of office hours - like answering emails or working on weekends - so why do you have to measure how we use our time in the office at every step?"

Netflix executives listened because they could not debate the logic of this proposal.

Back in the industrial age, when people stood from nine to five in front of an assembly line, it made sense to pay for face-to-face hours in companies. However, thanks to advances in technology, today is different. People work when there is a need to do so, regardless of the hours or where they are, and many times those tasks are not paid. The concept of "overtime" has become very blurred.

We are now in an economy of participation, where people must be measured by what they produce, not by the hours they spend sitting in the office. However, when we talk about days off we still cling to the paradigms of the industrial age. This is a huge demotivator. Netflix realized this and changed its vacation policy to reflect how work should be handled.

Brazilian origins

Without a doubt, this video streaming company was among the first to apply a protocol like this in North America, but the idea did not start here. The Brazilian company Semco has been operating with a liberal vacation policy for 30 years.

After having a severe health problem when he was 21 years old, Ricardo Selmer, son of the firm's founder, realized that the schedule he kept was slowly killing him. What was worse, he was probably hurting his employees as well. That is why he made the dramatic decision to change the scheme of days off, vacations, schedules and absences due to illness.

Contrary to what many expected, productivity increased dramatically and employee loyalty to the brand has never been higher. When Selmer introduced this policy in 1981, Semco was worth a mere $ 4 million. Today it is priced at more than a billion.

Is it really used?

Many companies defend their strict vacation protocols because they believe that employees will take advantage of this time off. But companies that have changed their policies have found that, in fact, the opposite is true. Freedom gives them such a strong sense of belonging to the teams that many collaborators do not usually take more breaks than absolutely necessary.

Employers that have instituted a similar strategy also have programs to, incredibly, encourage their employees to take vacations. Evernote , for example, gives its workers $ 1,000 to spend on their days off, and FullContact goes as far as $ 7,500. Since employees do not usually take vacations, they must present receipts that show that the money was spent on fun.

Although having "workaholic" collaborators may sound good on paper, it is not something that smart companies really want. Innovative companies know that when employees need time off to “recharge” - especially when they have the freedom to do so when they really need it - they return more creative and productive. Vacation bonuses are money very well spent.

In conclusion…

It is very sad to see that companies with an assembly line mentality still exist. We work from anywhere when necessary to get results, so logic would indicate that tradeoffs reflect that commitment.

Travis Bradberry

Written By

Dr. Travis Bradberry is the bestselling author of The Seagull Manager and a LinkedIn Influencer with more than 2.5 million followers. His bestselling books have been translated into 25 languages and are available in more than 150 countries. Bradberry has written for, or been covered by, Newsweek, BusinessWeek, Fortune, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and the Harvard Business Review.