Richard Branson wants everyone to vacation where they want, how they want, and how often they want, too.
“I mean…the amount of holiday that people get when they work for American companies, I think, is something of a disgrace,” Branson told an audience at the Qualtrics X4 Experience Management Summit in Salt Lake City, Utah earlier this week, Quartz reported. “How are you going to find any real time with your children or your partner, real quality time if you have, really, no holiday time?”
Branson, a vacation expert who owns an airline, two private islands, and an upcoming cruise line, believes all companies should offer unlimited time off and trust that their employees will use it responsibly.
“We encourage all our companies to give indefinite holiday time, paid,” Branson said. “If somebody wants to go off for two months, they can.” The Virgin CEO added that if you treat employees like the adults they are they will give back to your company tenfold.
“They give 100 percent back,” he said. “They respect you.”
“How awful to work for a company that doesn’t have massive loyalty from the people who work there,” he added.
Truly, Branson may be onto something. Private-sector employees in the United States, Quartz reported, receive an average of just 16 paid vacation days, including public holidays, each year. By contrast, employees in most European countries receive about double that amount.
And, Americans are barely even using the vacation days they get. U.S. workers wasted a whopping 653.9 million vacation days in 2018, according to Expedia’s 18th annual Vacation Deprivation study. According to the survey, 17 percent of respondents said they couldn't get time off from work. An additional 13 percent said they felt guilty about taking the time off they earned, and 25 percent of respondents said they check in on work at least once a day when they do take a vacation. And that, really, is no vacation at all.
As for what can be done about this, Branson had this advice: “If you feel that your company is not behaving in a way I’ve spoken about … you know, by all means, quote this interview… but try to get change within your company and ask the company to experiment for a year and see how it goes.”
And, if you have a few vacation days piling up, why not take your dream trip right now?