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No Policy Is the New Policy

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Came across an interesting article the other day; Should We Eliminate Our Vacation Policy? by Henry Blodget of Business Insider. Will the movement of companies ditching their vacation policies and tracking gain momentum?

It all started at movie rental giant, Netflix. In a publicly released HR presentation it shared the impetus behind the move: "An employee pointed out 'We don't track hours worked per day or per week, so why are we tracking days of vacation per year?'"

The sentiment wasn't lost on management: "We should focus on what people get done, not how many hours or days worked. Just as we don't have a 9-5 day policy, we don't need a vacation policy."

All of which got me to wondering:

  • If a company decides to stop tracking vacation days and throw vacation policies out the window, what happens to paid-time off? Do employees still receive an allotment of paid time off per year, or does the company give unlimited PTO?
  • Netflix decided to go with unlimited--the policy says employees are entrusted to take as much time as they need, as long as they communicate internally with the team and cover their responsibilities, which leads to my next question.
  • Is Netflix run by a bunch of hippies? The honor system has its merits--I am sure the sense of trust boosts morale--but, at least to my understanding, it's human nature to push boundaries. Doubtless there are employees milking the vacation policy. Has Netflix compromised productivity for the "coolest place to work" moniker?
  • If employees are taking advantage of the "no policy" vacation policy, would companies need to institute more policies to police this behavior? Seems silly but I bet doing-away with the one policy created a whole other set of problems that now need new policies.

So, what other policies can probably be done away-with? It seems the bigger the company the lengthier the rule book gets--for legal reasons as much as an excuse to keep someone on payroll--is all that policing really necessary?

Can small and medium sized businesses afford to be as trusting as Netflix?

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