Unlimited vacation time is better in theory than in practice — Lotte Bailyn

MIT Sloan Prof. Emerita Lotte Bailyn

MIT Sloan Prof. Emerita Lotte Bailyn

From The Atlantic “Quartz”

It is a vivid illustration of our 24/7-work culture that most Americans do not use all of their allotted vacation days. This is especially sad considering the large number of Americans who are not eligible for paid time-off; the US is one of a few countries that lacks a federal law requiring vacation time. Even those employees who do take time off from work are still largely tethered to the office.

Numerous studies have found that time away from the office and more frequent vacations lead to greater productivity, improved job performance, and lower levels of stress. Time off from work gives us an opportunity to rest and recharge, which in turn makes us more creative and resourceful once we’re back on the job. Most of us already know this from personal experience but now there’s data to back it up (paywall).

Some companies are beginning to take a pro-holiday stance. Netflix, Best Buy, and a growing number of technology firms have begun to offer unlimited vacation time to their employees. “It seemed silly, really, to track vacation time when we don’t track the amount of time employees work after the normal workday,” Vivian Vitale, executive vice president of human resources at Veracode, the application security company that offers this perk, told the Boston Globe recently.

The problem? Most employees are not taking advantage of it.

Read the full post at Quartz.


Lotte Bailyn is the T Wilson (1953) Professor of Management, Emerita at the MIT Sloan School of Management. For the period 1997-99 she was Chair of the MIT faculty, and during 1995-97 she was the Matina S. Horner Distinguished Visiting Professor at Radcliffe’s Public Policy Institute. 

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