How many vacation days are too many?

Unlimited vacation – that seems like winning the lottery, right? Collect the paycheck, and work as few days as possible. As an employee, it seems like a dream. As an employer, however, it seems like your worst nightmare. What if everyone is out playing when there’s work to be done?

Having just returned from an extended trip, I can attest that there is such a thing as too many days away from the office. So I have been following the LinkedIn discussion about unlimited vacation with interest. 

At the heart of this debate is our impression of how employees will act, and how to determine who is trust-worthy. Our impressions are formed from ‘gut reactions’ and don’t always have logical rationale. The logical argument is really not the question; it’s the emotional argument about responsibility, commitment and expectations. Will employees show up? And is showing up the way to gauge commitment? What signals do we use to assess others? And what do others use to assess us?

There are no right answers to these questions. Our first instincts are interesting, since these speak more to what lies beneath the surface of our interactions and impressions of others. We all believe we personally are worthy of being trusted with unlimited vacation, but we question whom else we can trust with this power. We should think not just about the decision, but about how we approach it – and what evidence we use to support our opinions.

Or just maybe, we value our days off because they are rare. If we had the choice to have every day off, we would not appreciate our time away from work nearly enough.

Either way, happy summer vacation to all!