As we enter the heart of summer, employees everywhere are zoning out at their computers thinking about upcoming vacations. But while we're all having the same daydreams, the ways in which companies deliver vacation time vary greatly.

Over the past couple years, some big-name companies have announced "unlimited vacation" policies. This includes brands like Netflix and Virgin Group, to name a few. Some people argue that it can help you attract and retain the best talent. Others say it eases a workaholic workplace.

But these companies have thousands of employees. According to LinkedIn's Total Employee Count tool, as of June, 2017, the totals were:

  • Netflix: 3,642
  • Virgin Group: 1,862

A flexible vacation schedule is all well and good when you have that many employees pulling their weight. But what happens when you have 10? Each person's presence is sorely missed.

Many startups are now offering unlimited vacation. If you're one of them, as a startup leader, you absolutely must stay true to your word. Yet work still needs to get done. So when 3 people of your 3-person marketing team are out for a week, here's how to keep things running smoothly.

Plan ahead.

I cannot stress this enough. It's really important to me that my team members take time off, recharge, and aren't stuck online during their vacations. To ensure this happens, other team members have to plan ahead. If something needs to be get done during a vacation, they need to tell that person at least a week in advance.

Step up and lend a hand.

Especially with a small team, you need to cover for each other during time off. For example, this week, one marketing person had her flight home canceled due to thunderstorms in Boston, and she unexpectedly had to miss an extra day of work. She called another marketer on the team that morning to walk her through an assignment and together, they delivered it on time and with great results.

Set clear expectations.

Make sure to set clear expectations for work, but be flexible on how work gets done. My team knows that even if someone is out on vacation, we still need to be productive and get things done. They can do their work in advance, ask a coworker to put the finishing touches on it, or ask me to step in to finish a project. All are great solutions.

Define specific goals.

Your team needs to be held accountable for their goals and results. But before you can hold them accountable, they have to have goals! For example, my paid search manager knows she needs to bring in a certain amount of revenue each week. If she can keep our strategy running smoothly while she's away, then taking a vacation is absolutely fine.

A lot of startup leaders talk about holding team members accountable for work, but they aren't always clear on what goals are. It's a two-way street. Leaders need to make sure their teams know what that means. A best-case scenario is to have these measurable goals documented.

Unlimited vacation can work at a small company. It just needs to be managed properly. These tactics will help.

Published on: Jul 5, 2017