If you work at SteelHouse, a California-based marketing and advertising agency, the company will pay you $2,000 a year to go anywhere in the world. That’s right. Jet to Beijing or Boston, it’s up to you. One trip or two (or three)!
CEO Mark Douglas was tired of watching his employees’ vacation days go down the drain because of the guilt and fear associated with taking time off. He compares today’s overworked generation to lions born into captivity. Once you open the cage, they won’t start running free but they will only back up further into confinement. Take Kickstarter, for example, which had to retract its unlimited vacation policy because its workers felt less entitled to their vacations and began to burn out.
“It’s one thing to say ‘You have three weeks vacation,’ like most companies do,” Douglas told Business Insider. “It’s another thing to say ‘You have cash, and if you don’t go on vacation and spend this money, the money literally goes to waste.’ It’s another level of saying this is real.”
[Related: See Open Jobs At SteelHouse & Apply Now!]
Championed by large tech companies and small startups alike, unlimited time off is arguably one of the most prized perks offered. On-demand vacation sounds like the ultimate contribution to a work-life balance and the most generous gift an employer can bestow upon its overworked employees.
But studies show that Americans do not fully utilize their vacation days, with an all-time low use in the past several decades. A Glassdoor survey found that the average American employee only takes half of their days off, and 61% work during vacation days. What could possibly be keeping us all from a warm nap on a beach here and there? Fear.
The survey finds that 28% of workers fear getting behind while on vacation with another 17% fear losing their job upon return. Another third fear that using vacation time means losing their spot in the lineup for a promotion.
[Related: Top 20 Employee Benefits & Perks]
But if job security is holding people back from a well-deserved break, this CEO is teaching his employees to celebrate vacation time.
And it’s safe to say that Douglas’ monetary incentive is working. The CEO’s approval rating has jumped to 99%. In the last three years only five of his 250 employees have left the company. The overall morale boost is being reflected in the firm’s all-time high revenue growth: a 170% increase in the past year, which makes StealHouse the fast-growing online advertising agency in the world. Not bad.
For Douglas, the new incentive is more than just a win-win for his team and company. It’s a commitment to paying forward the healthy work culture he was lucky enough to experience at the first companies he ever worked for, the type of company culture that influenced his perspective on work-life balance for the rest of his life.
Now the CEO of his own firm, he wants his employees – many of whom are under the age of 30 and consider StealHouse their first employer – to understand this type of balanced work culture as the norm. He hopes that one day, they too will establish progressive work-life balance policies at companies of their own. If Douglas isn’t #CEOgoals, I don’t know who is.