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Utah business pays employees to take paid vacations

Utah business pays employees to take paid vacations (Photo: Courtesy BambooHR)

Lindon, Utah (KUTV) Lindon based BambooHR began a new program to encourage its employees to take time off. The growing software company pays up to $2,000 towards each of their more than 200 employees’ vacations each year.

The company started the program last year. Employees are eligible for “paid paid vacation” after working six months. BambooHR will reimburse each employee up to $2,000 for vacation costs including hotel, transportation, and meals.

“We’ve always tried to be very thoughtful about the benefits we try to add incrementally as the company grew,” said CEO Ben Peterson, who started the company in 2008. “We feel very strongly that personal life doesn’t exist to support work life, but vice versa.”

Peterson considered other employee perks, like unlimited vacation, but ultimately decided on the paid paid vacation model.

“PTO is kind of a catch 22. You have it. But then, it’s often looked down upon if you take it. Studies show people actually take less time off when they have unlimited PTO than when they actually have a policy.”

In 2015, CBS News reported 55 percent of Americans left vacation days on the table, which translated to 658 million unused days.

Almost all of the eligible employees have taken advantage of the program since BambooHR began offering the program last fall.

Tiffany Hunter, customer success manager, spent two weeks working with a non-profit to bring clean water and health education to villages in southern Africa.

“To be completely unplugged, and to be able to really actually enjoy my vacation, and have my work pay for that was amazing. I’ve never been able to take a vacation without working,” she said. “Because you work so hard, they want you to really enjoy life.”

While Peterson has not quantitatively measured the performance of his employees since he implemented the paid paid vacation program, he said the qualitative effects are obvious.

“We don’t measure and say, 'OK, if you went on vacation, then you’re this much more productive.' You can’t work 60, 80, 90 hours a week and expect to be as efficient and thoughtful and productive as you might assume,” he said. “We know that we’re happiest when we’re having experiences. And so we thought that by doing this, we would help employees have experiences that would be meaningful in their lives.”

A handful of other companies have also adopted variations on BambooHR’s paid paid vacation model. They were recently featured on the Today Show.

Peterson said paid paid vacation is just one element of creating a successful and happy work environment for dedicated employees.

“It’s one piece. It’s not like you can take a company that’s maybe having a struggle with their culture or their environment. Maybe it’s a little bit toxic. You can’t just say, hey we’re going to pay for a vacation for everybody. There’s more to it than that.”

Hunter agreed the work environment contributes to a happy culture.

“I’m a BambooHR for life-er, and don’t really have any plans on exiting!”

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