Nautilus Book Award

unlimited vacation

Should Your Company Have An Unlimited Vacation Policy?

Should Your Company Have An Unlimited Vacation Policy? 2000 1351 Catherine Bell

Unlimited Vacation

Unlimited Vacation

Article originally appeared in Women of Influence by Catherine Bell

Catherine Bell is the founder of BluEra, an executive search and team transformation company—that has successfully implemented its own unlimited vacation policy. She’s also the best-selling and award-winning author of The Awakened Company, a thought-provoking read that explores how treating businesses as communities can transform them for the better, and how trusting your employees sets them up for ultimate success. Catherine speaks around the globe and The Awakened Company’s services help your team awaken!

By Catherine Bell


Take a moment to contemplate the idea: unlimited vacation. What words does it conjure up in your mind?

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, it’s certain to garner mixed feelings. On the one hand you’re probably thinking, wouldn’t that be nice? So nice, in fact, it may sound too good to be true. How could a company function if its employees were allowed to take off whenever they pleased? Wouldn’t it be a logistical nightmare?

If your thoughts on unlimited vacation quickly moved from blissful to disastrous, keep reading—I’m about to tell you how, why, and when it can work.

Unlimited VacationIt may sound farfetched, but unlimited vacation is actually a proven concept. It’s a policy that has been offered successfully by large corporations, including General Electric, LinkedIn, and Netflix, as well as small and medium businesses, like the company I co-Founded, BluEra.

We have been offering unlimited vacation to our employees since 2013. Our decision to institute the policy came after we realized there are better ways of working together. We had great people working with us—sixteen passionate, motivated, high-performers—but we recognized that burnout could become a serious problem, and trust is one of our core values. From a broader picture standpoint, we didn’t want our company to have a sweat-shop mentality. We value our employees as stakeholders in our business.  In addition, we can easily measure success in our business.

The announcement was made to our team at our annual strategic session. SInce then, we’ve managed the policy using an online spreadsheet. All employees have access, and they are free to block off any days they plan to use for vacation. We don’t ask for advance notice.

I was initially worried people wouldn’t take enough time off.  Our experience since then has been the same as what many other companies with the same policy report: nobody abuses the system, they take about as much vacation as we would have “officially” allotted them, and they are respectful of deadlines and busy periods. In fact, it has brought about more accountability and collaboration. Our team members support each other so that everyone is able to take time off.

And the greatest benefit of unlimited vacation? It may not be what you think. Yes, it’s a great perk for attracting and retaining highly skilled workers, but the concept goes much deeper than that. It’s a sign of trust. Empowering our employees to be in charge of their time off shows that we believe in their ability to manage their responsibilities, workload, and results.   We also believe in the power of the pause and this gives people the time to regenerate themselves.
Many policies were created with the worst employees in mind, as a means to keep them in check.  We want to work with rockstars. Do rockstars want unnecessary boundaries put on them?  This approach of giving freedom to employees and expecting the best of employees encourages them to be just that – the best.

Will it work in your organization? I’ll answer that question with a few more: what kind of culture do you have, and what kind of culture do you want? Do you want your employees to be leaders, or followers? Do you want them to feel accountable to their results, or just punching a clock?

With the right team in place, unlimited time off can help your employees focus on the work they are doing and the results they are achieving, and feel empowered by the trust you have shown you have in them. So evaluate the idea based on the message you want to convey, rather than how much vacation you think you can afford to have your employees take. You may find you need to encourage them to take their allotted time off (yes, companies with unlimited vacation policies have reported this phenomenon), and if you have an employee that immediately books a month-long getaway, they probably aren’t a great asset to your business anyhow.
At BluEra, we have found that our unlimited vacation policy has been a positive and important element of our company culture. It is a way we live our values. And a happier rested person is a more productive and engaged person. Of course, this won’t work at all companies, but it’s certainly worth taking into consideration.


Ready to awaken your own business? Get your copy of The Awakened Company, hire The Awakened Company, and learn how companies are achieving a new standard of success. A best-seller within a week, one of Eight of the Best Business Books of 2015, and a Nautilus Silver Medal Winner for Best Business Book for 2015, it explores a new way of doing business: incorporating mindfulness and wisdom traditions to ultimately benefit companies, those involved in them, and the planet itself. It has earned praise from business leaders and industry experts, and is the blueprint for the successful executive search and team transformation company, BluEra.

focus

Why You Shouldn’t Focus on Maximizing Shareholder Value

Why You Shouldn’t Focus on Maximizing Shareholder Value 2400 2112 Catherine Bell

Focus – where to put it as a leader.

Broken? Fix it!

Article originally appeared in Women of Influence by Catherine Bell

Catherine Bell is the founder of BluEra, an executive search and team transformation company. She’s also the best-selling and award-winning author of The Awakened Company, a thought-provoking read that explores how treating businesses as communities can transform them for the better. 

Whether you are working for a private or publicly-traded company, you are likely familiar with the concept of maximizing shareholder value. It’s a business model that was born in the eighties, and three decades later, it’s still widely regarded as the ultimate measure of success. Unfortunately, most CEOs I meet with solely focus on financial metrics, simply because this is the mantra they have grown up with.

The model is indicative of a pervasive mindset across the business world: “business is business.” The purpose of a company is to make money, and whatever it takes to do so is okay—as long as it’s legal, at least quasi-legal, or can be gotten away with. While few would admit this publicly, the impact it has had on our economy is impossible to deny. And few would argue that “business as usual” is working well.

The evidence is clear: maximizing shareholder value is a failing concept. 

It brought about the global financial crisis of 2007 through 2009. Fed by a drive for “more,” for decades a select class of investors increasingly used its clout to defang regulations and aggressively engage in high-risk activity, bringing the world’s most powerful economies to the brink of a narrowly-averted global depression.

It has led to corporate scandals—from Enron to Goldman Sachs—that have been met with far fewer repercussions for the perpetrators than for the people they negatively impacted, giving little incentive for corporations to change.

Most importantly, it has ruthlessly sacrificed the broader workforce, by creating a stressful, unfulfilling work environment that prioritizes profit over their welfare. Workplace dissatisfaction is on the rise, while the middle class is steadily shrinking.

Why do we assume that to increase shareholder value is of utmost importance to businesses, when the reality is that increasing shareholder value benefits the few, not the majority?

There’s another option: maximizing stakeholder value. That includes end-users, employees, management, and shareholders. It includes our suppliers, competitors, the communities and countries we operate in, and the planet earth.  We need to put value and emphasis on the quality of our experiences and the joy we are cultivating moment to moment.

focusThis new mindset requires that businesses focus on innovation, improving the wellbeing of their community, and making decisions for the longevity of the company and its team. It enables employees to come into their own, in a fulfilling and creative life. And for all those of you who are still wondering about profit: for the companies that have already shifted into this mode of operation—from Patagonia to Zappos—the financial rewards for the leadership, the team, and the shareholders have been substantial.

I call this being an “awakening company”—an organization that has moved from “me” to “we” in its thinking and practices, and that sees their employees, the communities they serve, and the planet itself as more than mere resources. I’ve seen the benefits in my own business, and I’ve interviewed experts and business leaders who have achieved the same results. So if you’re still focusing on maximizing shareholder value, it’s time reevaluate where that’s taking your business.

 


Ready to awaken your own business? Get your copy of The Awakened Company, and learn how companies are achieving a new standard of success. A best-seller within a week, one of Eight of the Best Business Books of 2015, and a Nautilus Silver Medal Winner for Best Business Book for 2015, it explores a new way of doing business: incorporating mindfulness and wisdom traditions to ultimately benefit companies, those involved in them, and the planet itself. It has earned praise from business leaders and industry experts, and is the blueprint for the successful executive search and team transformation company, BluEra.

Nautilus

Nautilus Book Awards Winner – The Awakened Company

Nautilus Book Awards Winner – The Awakened Company 480 622 Catherine Bell

The best-selling book, The Awakened Company was awarded the Nautilus Book Awards for 2015 in the Business & Leadership category.

The Silver Award recognizes The Awakened Company as “…a print book of exceptional  merit that make a Nautilus Book Awardliterary and heartfelt contribution to spiritual growth, conscious living, high-level wellness, green values, responsible leadership and positive social change, as well as to the worlds of art, creativity and inspiration.”

What an honour and a privilege! I am grateful for this award, which is recognition for the importance of our work, the community involved with our book and the message in The Awakened Company: there is a better way of doing business than the current model, and it results in more engaged and passionate workers, more sustainable business and better financial results. It is the wayNautilus Book Award to do business and to solve many of the world’s problems today.

I’d like to thank my publisher, Namaste Publishing Inc., who has been a great supporter of me and my work, my collaborators Russ Hudson and Christopher Papadopoulos, a whole community of amazing leaders who contributed to our book, my team at BluEra, my husband and business partner, Kent Brown and my two incredible sons.

To learn more about the best-selling and award-winning book, The Awakened Company, visit our website and buy our book.

If you are looking for a competitive advantage in your business, more fun, meaning and success in your work, then buy and read The Awakened Company. Remember, over 75% of companies die in the first 10 years. We can do better.

Living the practices taught in The Awakened Company improves your odds of survival – and is a lot more funl!