It’s an ever-popular trend among prominent companies to give “unlimited vacation days” or maternity leave as part of their perks. LinkedIn has officially jumped on that bandwagon (just like Netflix, Groupon, and Virgin). They’ve named it “discretionary time off.”
It’s obviously no surprise that we advocate for a healthy and manageable work/life balance. We know only too well that the struggle to find this balance is something every family experiences. But what does LinkedIn’s new policy actually mean? Technically, it means employees no longer have a minimum or maximum amount of vacation time. LinkedIn Vice President Pat Wadors wrote in a blog post that the decision is “part of a growing movement to place more focus on results and empowerment, not hours worked.”
But, does this change actually make a huge difference for most Americans? Maybe not. According to a Glassdoor survey, American employees only take 51% of their eligible time off anyway. Which really means most workers are probably too scared to take advantage of DTO, because of how they’ll be perceived. Bob Rosner of Workplace911 stated in TODAY:
“As much as they hear they get unlimited vacation, in the back of their minds they think, wait a minute, if the economy turns, I don’t want to be seen as not a team player, so I’m not going to take my vacation.”
Kickstarter, for example, actually tried unlimited vacation time before ultimately changing the policy, because employees didn’t know how much time was actually OK to take. The real question is not if DTO is bad, because it’s obviously not in theory, but if American work culture is currently still ingrained in a less-is-more rewards system?
In general, American companies offer less time for paid parent leave and vacation than the rest of the world–and that’s not new. So maybe, we just need to think of progressing benefits in the workplace the same way we parent–through baby steps–instead of thinking extremes are the only options.