Why Kickstarter Dropped Its ‘Unlimited Vacation’ Policy

The popular crowdfunding site says too much flexibility actually undermined employees’ work-life balance. We’ll explain.

An unlimited vacation policy — where workers can take as many days off as they want, as long as their work gets done — may sound like a dream come true. In practice, the policy tends to create uncertainty, resulting in employees taking less time off, not more.

That’s why Kickstarter, the popular New York-based crowdfunding startup, has abandoned its unlimited vacation policy in favor of a 25-day vacation cap, BuzzFeed News reports.

The company, which employs just over 100 workers, said offering a set number of vacation days actually promotes a better work-life balance for its employees.

“It’s always been important to us to ensure that our team is able to enjoy a quality work/life balance,” a Kickstarter spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. “What we found was that by setting specific parameters around the number of days, there was no question about how much time was appropriate to take from work to engage in personal, creative and family activities.”

As it is, some 40 percent of American workers don’t use all their paid vacation days, according to “Project: Time Off,” a 2014 study by GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications in conjunction with Oxford Economics. The study — part of a project aimed at shifting America’s work-centric culture — showed a steady decline in the number of annual vacation days American workers used over the past two decades.

“One reason we shortchange ourselves: Some people worry they’ll lose their job or miss out on a good raise or promotion if they use all their vacation days, especially when they have a bad boss or an employer that uses layoffs as a go-to management tool,” said CNN Money.

The idea of unlimited vacation has gained currency in recent years, but just 1 percent of companies, including Netflix, Zynga, Gusto, SurveyMonkey and Motley Fool, have actually adopted it as a policy.

At first blush, it sure seems counterintuitive that you would need to limit workers’ days off in order to get them to take time for themselves, but kudos to Kickstarter for recognizing a potential problem with their policy and changing it to promote a better work-life balance for their employees.

What do you think about unlimited vacation policies? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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