Bridging the Opportunity Divide

How Vacation Incentives May Be the Best Spark for Creative Thinking

October 27, 2014
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How Vacation Incentives May Be the Best Spark for Creative Thinking
Vacation incentives can be a great way to motivate employees. Ziv Turner/Flickr
Here's why more companies should consider giving employees a bonus to get away.

It’s no secret that unconventional company policies are a good way to retain employees and increase workplace productivity. From Google to Facebook, Silicon Valley’s tech industry has illuminated the benefits of good employee benefits.

Which is why thinkPARALLAX, a creative agency with 11 employees in California, recently launched a program to award its staff with a $1,500 travel budget to take a trip anywhere in the world.

The caveats? Each employee must choose a location they’ve never been to, travel between September and December and blog about the experience. So far the firm’s website features tales about trips to New Zealand, Peru, Holland and Germany.

“Rather than send employees to conferences or a local museum, we thought, what if our whole team is ‘forced’ to travel to a place they’ve never been, to immerse themselves in a new culture and gather inspiration?” the founders write on their website.

In fact, around 40 percent of Americans do not take their allotted paid vacation time, while 41 percent do not intend to use their paid time off (PTO) even though it’s included in their compensation, according to a survey from the U.S. Travel Association and GfK. Returning after vacation to piles of work or concern over leaving projects unfinished leads Americans to forego their vacation time, and most continue to work even when they’re on vacation: A recent TripAdvisor survey found that over the past year, 77 percent of Americans worked while they were on away.

“When you don’t put a timeline behind things, people tend not to do them,” says Jonathan Hanwit, a co-founder at thinkPARALLAX. “It also forces everybody to realize that they can pick up the slack and creates a more cohesive work environment.”

The creative agency is one of many companies joining the creative benefits band wagon. Airbnb employees receive a $2,000 travel credit to use on Airbnb while TED gives employees a compulsory summer vacation. More recently, Richard Branson’s Virgin Group announced unlimited vacation for the company’s staff in London, New York and Geneva. Netflix also offers unlimited holiday. Other examples include Patagonia, which offers flexible hours for its employees to surf and take advantage of the day’s best waves, as well as Evernote, which gives its employees a $1,000 bonus to take a whole week off.

MORE: This Organization is Sending Business Students on Road Trips for Change

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