What does it take in today’s day and age to be a sought after place to work? To attract some of the top talent to adhere to the standards your company is trying to uphold? For Miovision, we are always seeking out the most talented and intelligent individuals, but here in Kitchener-Waterloo, commonly dubbed “the Silicon Valley of Canada”, the acquisition doesn’t come without a fight against many other popular and cutting edge organizations looking for the same type of people. Over the last few years, our People Operations team have worked hard to to make sure the perks of being a Miovision employee are well worth accepting the job; competitive salaries, empowered culture, Friday happy hour, unlimited vacation …… wait, what?! Unlimited (or as we call it, flex) vacation?? That’s right, you did not read that incorrectly. As of January 1, 2016, Miovision has removed the cap on vacation time for most employees*, empowering individuals to use their own discretion when taking time off.
I’m sure there are many people out there wondering how a company can possibly offer a perk that feels more like a fantasy, not an actual policy your employer would offer – and how do they keep implementing a benefit like this from backfiring?
For Miovision specifically, empowering each employee is a fundamental value within our culture and it is built on a foundation of trust. We trust that employees, when given the freedom to chart their own path, will perform to their fullest potential. If you’ve hired the right people, you should trust them to know when they need a break and trust them to know how to plan their work accordingly around that break. All that is asked in return for this flexibility, is that each employee invest themselves in the mission, making sure their work gets done and gets done well. We pride ourselves on hiring the best and the brightest, as well as the most passionate people. Ones who are focused on contributing to the goals and growth of the company and who we know we can trust to not take advantage of this benefit.
One thing that it’s not meant to be is a scare tactic to dissuade employees from actually taking time off, for fear of keeping their job, being passed over for promotions, coming back to staggering piles of work, etc. We want employees to feel comfortable taking the downtime as they need and will look to leadership to encourage and lead by example. In fact, while there is no maximum number of days an employee can take, we have instituted a minimum to ensure each person does take at least some time.
So why are companies hopping on the bandwagon of unlimited vacation? While only 1%-2% in the US** have started to implement this policy and even less in Canada, organizations such as Netflix, Hubspot, LinkedIn and GE have all started offering this as not only a recruitment tactic, but a retention tactic as well. Empowering your employees with the ability to control their own vacation destiny will ultimately lead to upward spikes in things like morale, creativity and productivity if implemented correctly.
As we think about the future and what that looks like, we have to remember that the “standard” vacation packages we are all so accustomed to (and most probably still adhere to) typically go hand in hand with a 9-5 working environment. Many of the above mentioned companies are anything but 9-5 working environments, Miovision being no exception. With things like the internet and mobile devices, flex hours are something that we here have been familiar with for awhile and these are tools that help to enable people to work where and when they are most comfortable – and in a lot of cases, this is at home on the couch at midnight! So it only makes sense to allow the freedom around flex vacation as well. This is truly the act of a progressive company treating their employees with the trust and respect they deserve.
I expect that in the coming years, we will see more and more companies issue unlimited vacation programs, but right now this is still relatively new in Canada and it may take time for leadership to wrap their heads around how this makes sense for the environments they manage. I do foresee it prevailing in the tech industry, especially within start-up environments.
In the meantime, we are proud to be one of the first companies in the area, heck, one of the first in the country, to take a step into some unchartered territory. Our employees certainly aren’t complaining!
*There are roles at Miovision that are less flexible in nature, like task or shift-based roles. In these cases, the current vacation program will remain the same.
**Society for Human Resource Management