Vacation Policies

Atop the highest vantage point in Tikal, Guatemala. December 2012.

Atop the highest vantage point in Tikal, Guatemala. December 2012.

Although I've proved the worst offender at times, I believe in the power of vacation. After time away, people return to the desk with fresher minds and a renewed sense of excitement about their work. Vacations melt stress and break routines, loosening people up for more creative thinking.

More often than not, on the last day of any vacation, I feel an urge to get back into the thick of my plans—to make progress on my goals.

And vacations contribute to more than mental health: A 2000 analysis of the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial, which studied nearly 13,000 men aged 35 to 57 who had a high risk for coronary heart disease, found that people who took regular vacations had a lower risk of death.

True to this belief, from the day I hired my first employee at FrogDog, I made our paid-time-off policy use-it-or-lose-it. If you don’t take your allotted paid time off each year, it expires. Why? Because I want you to take your full amount of paid time off each year.

Even so, we have employees so immersed in work and home that they never plan trips. Regularly, friends brag that they never take their full vacation. Sometimes, prospective employees say they “never take time off,” as though this proves an extra check in the “pro” column.

Just like bragging about bad sleeping habits, we need to quash boasting about zero vacation time.

Here’s the thing: Few valid excuses exist for passing on a permitted escape from the office. You don’t have to go anywhere—you can relax at home. You don’t need a travel buddy—as I learned from experience, traveling solo is a treat. You don’t have to go anywhere exotic—renting a house or finding a hotel driving distance away works just fine. You don’t have to leave for a week—you can take a series of long weekends.

Where’s your next vacation?