Go Away & Get Paid

Closeup of a microphone suspended over an on-air computer in a radio broadcast studio

Until I started working for myself, I always worked for traditional companies with fat HR do-and-don’t binders and strict rules. Truth is, I kind of like rules. When parameters are set you know just how far you can push. The motto, “Beg forgiveness, don’t ask permission” works well in this environment, especially where creativity is involved.

You know the drill: You have to work 40 hours per week for a year before you get your limited vacation time. Or something close to that. I once worked for a radio company that tracked our hours because the new bean-counter at the top, who came from a non-creative industry, was upset that some of us didn’t hit 40 hours. THAT was a fun time, trying to explain and justify our work to someone who’s never done it!

In the media, LIFE is your workday. And now, in many industries, it’s the same. Work-life balance is something no one mentioned when I started out. Your scales were supposed to tip heavier on job-related time. Maybe you start work before everybody else comes into the office, and do more on your laptop at home while the rest of the family watches TV. There’s an unwritten rule in radio: we won’t expect extra pay for the extra time as long as you (the company) don’t tell us HOW to get the job done. There’s a looseness to it. In radio, as long as the preparation comes “out of the box”, it’s all good. (Unless you have a bean counter at the top who doesn’t understand anything creative.)

But the concept of offering unlimited paid vacation sounds like something from a fantasy world. However, many companies, including a few in Canada, are doing just that. EllisDon, Karos Health, and software company RL Solutions are among them. The downside seems obvious: employees taking advantage of the policy. But tracking productivity can weed that out. Another downside reported is workers taking less time off because they don’t know how to do it without a structure aka rules.

A new MetLife employee benefits survey finds time – specifically, time offered in this way – is the most important perk to young workers. However, the survey also finds that they consistently choose more money over time when presented with those two options. I get it. Money is hard to turn down. But now that I’m older, and my current boss goes a lot easier on me, there’s no question that time is the biggest perk of all.

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