Vacations Earned in Trust

Brian A Jackson/Shutterstock

The title for this post reflects the typical language that is used when describing how vacation is accrued or allocated in an employment contract or a collective agreement. While meant to reflect an administrative approach to the calculation and disbursement of earned vacation time, the word ‘trust’ holds some powerful meaning in the employment relationship.

As part of an overall compensation strategy, do employers actually trust their employees when providing them with vacation time? Is it a reward well earned?

We have all heard of, or may have had personal experience with, the workplace where vacations are calculated according to strict provisions; given begrudgingly; and scheduled to fit the business needs of the organization, first and foremost.

What might happen if these approaches were thrown out the window leaving vacation earnings and usages entirely up to the employee? Could we trust our employees to manage their own time to take a break when they need it the most?

According to the CEO of Vigilant Management in the United States, yes we can!

Click here to read the article.

Clearly, the most important element of the unlimited vacation policy arrangement is a high degree of trust between all parties in this particular work place. In a Canadian context, as noted in the article, each province provides for a legislated minimum of vacation earnings which differs from the approach in the Unites States. Even with these legislated minimums, if there was no maximum time capping the amount of vacation an employee could take, how many days would actually be used?

Most of us are creatures of habit and do not like too much of good thing. This could apply equally when thinking about both going to work or taking vacation. When employees are able to see, feel and believe that they are trusted, then work and vacation both become complementary parts of one good thing, instead of too much of one being bad for the other.

Discussion Questions:

  1. At what point in your vacation time do you become bored and want to go back to work?
  2. If you had unlimited vacation time from your current workplace, how much time would you want to take as vacation? How would you schedule your time?
  3. From a compensation perspective, how could you calculate the costs of unlimited vacation for employees?


Strategies for Social Good?

Group of people seen from above gathered together in the shape of a "thumbs up" symbol standing on a white background

Most of us are motivated to contribute something positive to the greater good of the world around us.

This motivation does not stop when we enter into our respective workplaces. When we spend forty or more hours a week working as part of an organization, we want to feel that our combined efforts are part of something bigger. We want to belong to an organization that gives back, not just to each one of us as employees, but to the broader social community. In recognition of this motivation, many Canadian companies are building their organizational frameworks on managerial strategies that allow for a reach beyond the workplace, into the broader community, to contribute to a social good.

Three examples of Canadian companies that have built their strategic frameworks on the principles of ‘good deeds’ are outlined in a recent article published by Canadian Business.

Click here to read about the initiatives implemented by Oliberté, Nude Bee Honey and Canada Goose.

From a compensation strategy perspective, each of these Canadian companies seems to include an element of reinvesting their rewards back into their communities, the environment, and their workers. As noted in the article, each of these profitable organizations must have the buy-in of their staff if they want to be successful in bringing about environmental or social change.

As a result, these strategies come at a price for consumers at the point of purchase. In the same way that employees may be motivated by doing good, these companies are successful through the targeting of socially conscious consumers who may be willing and able to pay in order to be part of a broader good.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does a prospective employer’s commitment to social responsibility influence your career choices?
  2. What types of managerial strategies are evident in Oliberté, Nude Bee Honey and Canada Goose?
  3. How is employee citizenship behaviour rewarded in each of these companies?
  4. Would you pay more for a product if you knew that the profits would be used for social good?

Work to Earn?

Profit-seeking concept with businessman runs for a bag of money hanging on a fishing tackle
Who is Danny/Shutterstock

“What would you do if your income were taken care of?”

This is the question that many European countries are asking of its citizens. Finland has answered this question by providing a basic guaranteed income to its unemployed workforce as a strategic initiative during challenging and changing economic times.


Click here to view the video about the guaranteed income plan in Finland. 

As noted in this video clip, the guaranteed income scheme is an experiment based on the compensation concepts of motivation and rewards. In this case, the reward provided by a guaranteed income for two years should act as a motivator to those who are unemployed. It allows them to take on a low-paying job without having to file reports or pay back the government income.

It seems that this incentive plan is based on the positive pull of income as reward. If a basic income is guaranteed, will a person want to increase the level of their potential rewards by taking on low-paying work without risk of losing the guaranteed pay? Does a guaranteed reward lead to motivation for more rewards?

On the other hand, as mentioned in the clip, if the person wants to stay on the couch and do nothing for two years, they have that choice as well. Will the guaranteed income represent a reward for doing nothing?

The hope, or theory, is that the pull of positive potential should outweigh the drag of negative inertia.

If Canadians were able to build a similar strategy built on possibilities and belief in human potential, how far could it go?

In a Canadian context, if such a plan could be offered to our own unemployed workforce, perhaps it would allow for young workers to take on unpaid internships; for workers displaced by automation to try something new that builds on unused skills; for older workers who have been laid off, to become productive again instead of discarded and left out.

No matter what the outcome will be over the next two years in Finland, this innovative experiment exploring the basic links between the value of work and the value of rewards will likely have impact around the world.

Discussion Questions:

  1. If you had a basic guaranteed income for the next two years, what choices would you make to improve your current situation?
  2. In a Canadian context, how could employers benefit from a basic guaranteed income strategy?
  3. What are the risks associated with this experiment?