This article was published on November 27, 2014

The real reason unlimited vacation policies work

The real reason unlimited vacation policies work
Mike Volpe
Story by

Mike Volpe

CMO @HubSpot - marketing, startups, entrepreneurship, SaaS, B2B, lead generation, blog, social media, SEO, analytics, VC, golf, Patriots, Re CMO @HubSpot - marketing, startups, entrepreneurship, SaaS, B2B, lead generation, blog, social media, SEO, analytics, VC, golf, Patriots, Red Sox

Mike Volpe is the CMO of Hubspot.

At most companies in the United States, vacation starts in the most unrelaxing way possible: permission slips. Accruing enough time to go on vacation then having to ask for permission to do so feels more like a fifth grade field trip than a grown-up getaway.

Still, far too many companies rely upon the status quo to inform vacation policies. At HubSpot, we think that’s archaic, so we designed a policy that allows employees to build their work around their life, not the other way around.

Only about 13 percent of employees in the US are engaged in their work (Gallup). Growing a business is virtually impossible when employees can’t wait to get out the door at 5 PM.

Promoting job flexibility

To attract and keep top talent today, companies have to build a modern workplace where people can spend less time worrying about their work/life balance, and more time thinking about how they can drive results. Unlimited vacation means employees have flexibility between the hours of 9 and 5 and don’t have to wait for a calendar holiday to relax.

Not to mention, businesses spend more time watching results instead of the clock.

working remotely

We realized this a few years ago after one of our engineers had worked consistently late nights on a big, company-wide initiative. The project reached the finish line and he went to ask our CEO, Brian Halligan, to sign off on his requested vacation days.

Something was wrong with this picture; he could move the needle on our company’s growth but wasn’t allowed to take a day off without permission? This didn’t fly with Brian and we’ve had an unlimited vacation policy ever since.

Tools like Dropbox, Google Docs, GoToMeeting and smartphones have made it seamless for people to work from anywhere, at any time and companies should be embracing this shift by evaluating employees on the results they produce, not the number of days they are in the office.

Making it work for your company

The key to any “no policy” policy is culture fit. If you hire the right people, unlimited vacation doesn’t lead to missed deadlines and unmet goals. Top talent isn’t interested in slacking off when they’re motivated by your mission and are given the autonomy to move the needle on it.

The benefit of not tracking anyone’s time off is that employees have unlimited flexibility in their work/life balance. For example, most of the US is already stressed out at the thought of making a trip home this winter for the most traveled days of the year.

Companies with unlimited vacation policies make it easier for employees to get home for the holidays because they don’t have to think twice about leaving a day or two earlier when fares are cheaper and the crowds are less hectic.


The difference between two days off and three days off is insignificant for your business but for employees, it could mean fewer headaches, less stress, and a greater appreciation for your workplace.

Closing thoughts

At the end of the day, we’re finding that unlimited vacation is more about time management than frequent flier miles. Employees are taking advantage of the policy to schedule a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon instead of waiting six months, take an early morning yoga class they love, or leave at 3 PM to avoid rush hour traffic.

This time away from the office may not look like a vacation, but it has the same benefits: employees are more engaged and ultimately more productive at work.

Thanksgiving is stressful enough with your great aunts asking about your personal life. Companies shouldn’t add to that strife, they should subtract from it, so employees can spend more time thinking about how to do their job well (and how much turkey they’ll consume) and less time filling out useless forms.

Now, that’s something to be thankful for.

Read next: Culture is everything: How I reclaimed an employee back from Apple

Back to top