Why I Give My Team Unlimited Vacation

Posted June 24, 2014 by   in The Springboard Culture

I’ve always been a driven person. I despise mediocrity and I’ve tried to be the best at most things I’ve done since I can remember (except spelling for some reason, not sure what that says about me). This drive has allowed me to see a lot in my short 36 years. It’s also caused me to miss out on a lot in these seemingly long 36 years!

True Story: Since graduating from Purdue in 2000, I’ve worked at 8 different companies as my primary job. Some of which were businesses I started but the point remains that I’ve continually been driven for “more”, and in pursuit of this seemingly unattainable, goals I’ve spent a lot of hours working and “climbing the ladder” as it seemed.

As a sign of how much I work, I generally go through laptops about every 18 months. Yes…yes, they are Windows machines and I’m sure a MacBook Pro would last longer but I think it averages out in the end.

Throughout these 14 years of chasing the “more” I’ve realized there was a lot I didn’t get to experience or lost, because I was working. Don’t get me wrong! I’ve had a lot of fun and am very blessed – I wouldn’t change a thing because it’s all given me perspective that will guide how I live the rest of my life and help guide others.

But in this time, I’ve…

  • continued to be a son, brother, grandchild, cousin, nephew, uncle and family member
  • became married to a wonderful woman – Jackie Myers
  • seen friendships come and go – some welcomed, and some sorrowfully missed
  • had (well, my wife did) two children
  • seen loved ones pass
  • made new friends
  • grown intensely in my faith and relationship with God

As I think about the major non-work things that have done in these 14 years, it pains me to reflect on how I wasn’t the “best” at these all things! I’ll say it…I’ve been mediocre. That hurts…not because of my own selfish pride, which is quite large by the way, but because I realize how I’ve not been 100% available and attentive to all these areas of my life. These areas that mean far more to me than work! These areas that are the “more”. These areas that are why we live – which is not work!

It was somewhere between the having children and growing in faith that I realized I was misplacing my attention. And despite how many hours I threw at work, I was never going to be satisfied and feeling whole. It was then that I committed to having a life – work balance. Notice the ordering of works “life” first, “work” second. It seems simple but not the norm. In fact, Google reports that “work – life balance” is searched 8,100 times per month where as “life – work balance” is only searched 260. What this means to the non-Internet marketer is that people commonly think work life, and not life work. (I’m an Internet Marketer…I had to)

Sad, right? We’ll I think so. So when starting Octavia Marketing & Web Design, I was adamant that I and those part of my work family, would have a healthy life-work balance. So, we implemented the Unlimited Vacation policy and flexible schedule. It was only logical. Wanting to be able to invest more in the above bulleted items, I had to be able to spend more personal time. I needed time to vacation with my family. I needed time to strengthen my marriage. I needed time to work on friendships. I needed time to spend with my children – attending the doctor appointments before they were born, attending preschool graduation and spending an extra day with them at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. I needed time to give to my church and helping others within the community understand God’s love and grace. I needed more, but it wasn’t what I originally had thought “more” meant. I needed more time to do what are the most important things in life. Which isn’t work.

Don’t get me wrong – work is important, but it shouldn’t be at the top of the list. So if I wanted more time and flexibility with work, didn’t my work family deserve the same? Don’t you?

So how do you run a business with unlimited vacation time and a flexible schedule? I’m pretty sure I don’t know the full answer to that, but I do know it boils down to the people you choose to share your work time with. Simply put, if you surround yourself with people that share commonality and the same core values, it works. If you’re fortunate enough to find people that are as driven professionally as you, but want a healthy life – work balance, it works.

The second factor is staying true to this perspective. I was recently challenged by a co-worker on if we should cut back on the unlimited vacation time and flex-schedule. To give context, this was during a crazy busy time with an abnormal workload. In a conversation with this individual (whom I love and trust emphatically), posed the question of should we cut back on vacation time during this abnormal workload period. Seems logical – I can understand the inquiry.

However, I don’t agree. My simple answer was “no” and that we need to truly own this part of our culture. You see, you are, what you do. Meaning your actions are the truest evidence of one’s true self. One of our core values is a life – work balance. (period). That doesn’t change, no matter what the circumstances.

By building your work family with those that share common values, and staying true to the philosophy of a life – work balance, you can manage your time to spend it on what truly matters. I’m blessed have reached this understanding while I still have a lot of living to do, but to also have those in my work family that share the same desires.

  • Billy McAllister

    I took 3 weeks of paid vacation (plus 12 days during the holidays) during my first year at Octavia Marketing. The fact is that I could have taken even more (and will very soon).

    The policy really works because we focus on hiring team members who won’t abuse it. To date, we have not had any issues yet and are all booking our next trips!

  • David Goecke

    What an awesome read and a great post Chad! I’ve definitely learned that when you hire the right people and when you provide an abundance of resources, you receive appreciation for those resources and in turn, great work is produced! :) It seems counter-intuitive to think this way as people are naturally selfish and greedy — it’s the American way! The post was a pleasure to read!

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  • Tina Kruse

    What a wonderful read in such a hectic business world dominated by performance metrics that don’t take into account the other ‘jobs’ I have as an employee–mom, daughter, sister, niece, best friend… which really is what shapes me. After all, on my death bed, I won’t lament how I really wished I would have stayed at work a few extra hours, or made more calls to clients or sold more business. But, what I will lament, is the lost time with family and friends, the vacations I didn’t take to create lasting memories, and, really, just time to stop and smell the roses. Work-Life Balance is just a buzzword…change the message and policy and you change the game! I so wish you were hiring for sales/marketing!!!!

    • http://www.springboardmarketing.com Springboard

      Hi Tina,

      Thanks for taking the time to read and share your thoughts. It is odd how much emphasis we place on work. You’re thoughts are spot on about what matters at the “end”. It’s certainly not work in the sense of what we do day to day. However, it is the work we do to make this a better world, be productive in society, and love those around us.

      Please do continue to follow us as we’re growing and constantly bringing on new team members.