A guest post by Claire D. Ratushny.
Are we over-communicating? Too accessible? Too on-call? Working too many hours? Bart Lorang, the principal officer of software company FullContact, thinks so, and he decided to do something about it. The company is offering to pay employees $7,500 a pop to take a vacation. Why $7,500? The company figures that’s a good number for a family of four to take a decent vacation.
So, what’s the catch?
FullContact will shell out the dough to employees if they do three things. First, they must go on vacation. Secondly, they have to totally disconnect---no cell phones, Blackberries, nor iPads allowed. Just think: no phone calls, no emails! Lastly, work is not allowed. Not one little tiny bit of work can be done.
Does it all sound too easy? Think again. In this 24/7 world where we’re available all of the time, unplugging from work is easier said than done. Think about it: Could you take a week off—or more—and unplug completely? It’s harder to do than it sounds.
What’s Lorang’s point in doing this?
Cynics say that in the uber-competitive world of software providers, paying employees $7,500 to go on vacation is really just a publicity stunt. After all, this announcement has generated a lot of buzz in cyberspace. When put on the spot in an interview, though, Lorang made a few simple points, and I have to say, he sounded sincere. He also made a lot of sense.
Lorang's points are...
- Employees are happier and healthier when they take vacations to reenergize.
- Employees who are happy, healthy, and rested are more productive.
- Productive employees who are happy and healthy reward companies with higher retention.
- Companies make sure to pair employees, so that other team members can ably cover and service the customer without lapse during vacation absences.
The PR that this move generated doesn’t hurt the company’s chances to gain a competitive edge either. Lorang pointed out that software businesses are competing furiously for talent; there’s a shortage of great software engineering talent out there with the most advanced skill sets. Given the PR, would job seekers choose Company XYZ with an unknown C-suite and culture, or FullContact, a company that treats their employees like human beings rather than mere units of production? I think we know the answer to that one. By the way, Lorang says he’s looking to hire about a dozen new employees in the next few months... What are his chances of hiring over competitors now?
What does this have to do with running a business? And marketing? Everything. Not to mention brand-building. Culture building. Storytelling. PR. How about social media? The Lorang interview that I caught on a cable business show wouldn’t have happened had the news of Lorang's offer to employees not gone viral. It spread like wildfire on the Internet and, as Lorang noted, it wasn’t just because of the cash he’s offering. The whole idea of unplugging from all of our communication devices from time to time is also being hotly debated.
Some questions to ponder are...
- Is this move on the part of FullContact altruistic? Calculated and self-serving? Or both?
- Do you agree that this initiative is a business and brand builder for FullContact---or do you have a different perspective?
- Would you be more likely to seek out a company like FullContact and stay there for a long time, or would you still move to another company for more money or a promotion?
- Could you unplug for a week or more? Or would you grin and bear it for $7,500 bucks and a free vacation? (C’mon: be honest.)
I look forward to reading your comments.
Claire Ratushny provides outsource content marketing and PR services for businesses. She blogs on her website @ WriteStrategy.biz.
(Photo courtesy of Bigstock: Man Unplugged)