Are "pre-cations" set to become the next new trend among employers trying to distinguish themselves from the pack? A recent Slate article highlights a couple of Silicon Valley firms—42 Floors and Atlassian—that have been doing wha Silicon Valley firms do best: disrupting the established order--in this case, how they onboard their employees. According to Slate, 42 Floors offers vacation to new hires ahead of their start date, while Atlassian gives new employees a travel voucher and "encourag[es] them to take a trip before their first day." That's right: the firms pay for employees to take vacations before they expect them to show up for work.
On its face, the policy seems to have a few key advantages for employers: their new employees can start work fully refreshed, and with a great impression of the new company already formed in their minds—a factor that has to be good for morale. And, as Jeff Diana, Atlassian's Chief People Officer, notes in the Slate piece "Changing jobs is an important shift, and we want to give people time to recharge, spend some time with family. Because once you start a new job, you kind of jump all in."
Additionally, the last thing that many employers want is for a new employee to come on board, spend weeks and months getting up to speed with their job, and then taking off on vacation just as they're getting into the swing of things. This approach has the potential to make a difference to that dynamic.
In a country where many employees don't even use the vacation time they're allotted—and despite having less vacation time than workers in many other countries to start with—moves like this are a welcome development for the attention they bring to the issue of employee burnout and the importance of work-life balance.
Whether the initiative catches on among other firms is hard to predict, but here's a thought for some of the larger companies out there: consider the positive PR that could be generated if a firm on the scale of, say, Deloitte or Goldman Sachs adopted this kind of approach. After all, how many of us would have heard of 42 Floors or Atlassian if they hadn't taken a different tack on work-life balance? And just look at the publicity Virgin Airlines got for its recent announcement of a switch to an "unlimited" vacation policy. Big firms, it's over to you!
Slate: You Deserve a Precation
CNN Money: Branson: Take as Much Vacation as You Want!
Last fall, in the wake of Goldman Sachs’ announcement of its new policy preventing young bankers from working on Saturdays (unless working on a live transaction), I wrote about Why Goldman Sachs’ New Saturdays-Off Policy Won’t Work. Now, some nine months later, after several other banks have followed Goldman’s suit and enacted their own “Protected Saturday” policies, I’m happy to report that I might’ve spoken too soon.
“New hire’s remorse”—at least under this name—is a recent phenomenon that we broached last week. Also called “shift shock,” it arises when an employee regrets taking a job because it isn’t the right fit or is completely different from what was expected.