Company Orders U.S. Employees, Workaholics Included, to Take Vacation

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An Italian company, grappling with how to get its U.S. workers to take a real break, puts in place a mandatory vacation policy.

How many times have you uttered, “I need a vacation,” in the past year? With 2015 winding down, many American workers are still sitting on unused vacation days.

Americans are increasingly reluctant to take vacation, despite the negative consequences, including fatigue, stress, poor morale, reduced productivity and strain on family life.

In an effort to curb employees from becoming workaholics, some companies require that their workers take their vacation time, CNN Money reports. Balsamiq is one of those companies.

Giacomo Guilizzoni is the founder of Balsamiq, which makes rapid wireframing tools for web design and app mock-ups. He told CNN Money that the company’s U.S. workers weren’t taking enough time off, so he implemented a mandatory vacation policy.

“We expect people to take at least 20 days of vacation, in addition to nine national holidays,” said Guillizzoni, who along with half the company is based in Italy, where vacation days are “written into the contract, and pretty much sacred.”

Jobs site Anthology is trying out a mandatory vacation policy. Its employees get all major holidays off, two weeks of paid vacation and five flex days, according to CNN Money.

The rule is that if you haven’t taken any vacation in the past three months, you must take at least one of your five extra days. And by “take off” they mean scram.

“If we see you online, we won’t reply to you. It’s serious,” said CEO Tom Leung. Apparently, they won’t let you into the office either.

Although some companies have unlimited vacation policies, they aren’t always effective in getting workers to take time off. Anne-Marie Slaughter, president of the nonpartisan think tank New America and author of “Unfinished Business: Men, Women, Work, Family,” told TechRepublic that she implemented a use-it-or-lose it policy with vacation time when she first started New America.

On top of the normal three months off, New America offers an extra six weeks of paid time off, to be used for any purpose. But the real point is this — you must use four weeks of the year, or it’s lost. You can only roll over two weeks into the following year. “I believe strongly that my employees will in fact be much better at their jobs if they take real time off, rest, do new things, read novels, or do whatever they want to recharge,” said Slaughter. “This way we change the incentives; you’d be stupid to leave that time on the table!”

Check out “Why You Should Take a Vacation.”

Do you use all of your vacation days during the year? What do you think of mandatory vacation policies? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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