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  • You're working for Netflix!

  • The high-powered streaming platform is one of the biggest entertainment companies in

  • the world, and they've decided they want you on their team as a salaried worker.

  • And with that comes a lot of benefits.

  • You'll be paid well - the lowest-paid Netflix salaried worker gets over $50,000 a year,

  • with the highest paid getting over $600,000.

  • And no matter which side of that fence you're on, you'll get a nice package of perks.

  • It includes stock options, a stipend for any health needs, unlimited parental leave, and

  • unlimited paid vacation.

  • Wait, did you say UNLIMITED paid vacation?

  • Technically, yes!

  • And on the surface, it sounds like Netflix just gave you the license to check out on

  • your second day of work, head to the Bahamas, and collect a paycheck while soaking up the

  • sun.

  • Netflix is a high-tech company, and you can probably do much of your job from your beach

  • cabana.

  • You'll even answer some emails - it's the least you can do.

  • But you can stay on salary while taking all the time off you want.

  • It sounds too good to be true.

  • And of course, that means it is.

  • By not giving you a fixed number of vacation days, Netflix leaves the judgement call up

  • to you.

  • And there's a chance this will lead to people actually taking less vacation days, not more.

  • Have you ever tried to ask your boss for a favor?

  • Maybe asking for a raise, or a more flexible schedule?

  • The odds are it was the most nerve-wracking thing you've done in a long time, and the

  • odds are you've chickened out more than once.

  • When vacation days are something you already have, it's easier - but if you're asking

  • for non-fixed vacation days, many people might find themselves wondering if they're doing

  • the right thing.

  • But does Netflix actually want you to take your vacation days?

  • Well, if you look at the website, the answer is an unambiguous yes!

  • The company prides itself on its flexibility, and the only real guideline they give for

  • using your company stipend isuse good judgementandAct in Netflix's best

  • interest”.

  • And they have a two-word policy for vacation - “Take vacation”!

  • They don't give any formal guidelines, and say they intermix work and personal time a

  • lot.

  • That means even if you're on vacation, you'll be doing a bit of work.

  • And they're probably hoping you'll spend some time brainstorming and come into the

  • office with some great new ideas!

  • But in practice, the story might be very different.

  • Every office is an ecosystem, and ecosystems have seasons.

  • If you're requesting time off, your boss' reaction might be very different depending

  • on the time of year.

  • While Netflix doesn't have traditionalseasonslike network TV does - where the fall season

  • and sweeps weeks can determine whether the CEO keeps their job - some times are much

  • more critical than others.

  • If Netflix is about to do a full-court press for a new announcement, that's probably

  • not the time for the head of the PR department to take their vacation.

  • And no one wants a customer service agent to be on vacation when the latest season of

  • Stranger Things just caused the servers to overload and a million angry fans want to

  • know why they can't watch.

  • But how did all of this begin?

  • Back in 2003, no one ever thought of an unlimited vacation company.

  • Big companies all gave vacation days and tracked them so no one spent too much time away from

  • the office.

  • But it soon became clear that Netflix was no ordinary company.

  • They were mostly a DVD rental company at that point, before streaming took off, but they

  • were already one of the first companies to take full advantage of the new digital world.

  • Employees were working on the weekend, responding to emails, and taking off early when allowed.

  • So one employee asked - if they're not an old-fashioned company in any other way, why

  • are they on vacation days?

  • CEO Reed Hastings thought about it - and decided he had a point.

  • Hastings believed that what actually mattered about employee performance wasn't how much

  • time you put in at the office, but what you achieved when it was crunch time.

  • And with a creative industry, there was no such thing as being totally off the clock

  • - even when you weren't at the office, the gears in your mind were churning.

  • And more often than not, employees would come back from their vacation bursting with ideas.

  • The post-vacation slump wasn't a thing at Netflix - and Hastings thought it was time

  • to take full advantage.

  • But not everyone agreed.

  • When the unlimited vacation policy was first announced, the general response was skepticism

  • and mockery from the press.

  • Most companies were still run as traditional offices with set hours, and the digital revolution

  • was barely beginning.

  • So how would a traditional office work if anyone could take off whenever they wanted

  • to?

  • People saw two disasters in the making.

  • For one, without official vacation days, no one takes a vacation - and workers wind up

  • burning out.

  • On the opposite end, people take vacations with no regard for the company's needs,

  • and the company collapses from lack of staff.

  • Hastings didn't believe either would happen.

  • But he was soon proven wrong.

  • Peer pressure became a serious problem when it came to taking vacations.

  • Whether you felt comfortable taking a vacation or not depended on the culture of your department.

  • The marketing department was notoriously full of workaholics, and one employee who we'll

  • callDonnafelt like there was no way she could let them down.

  • If no one in leadership wants to take vacations, conscientious workers won't take them either

  • - no matter how much they need to.

  • But not all departments have the best interests of the company in mind.

  • The accounting department at Netflix is critical, and January is the crunch time when they have

  • to turn in their yearly analysis of the company's business model.

  • But one year - the year after the vacation policy changed - the books were late and the

  • company was left hanging.

  • The cause?

  • A critical member of the accounting department had decided to take the first two weeks of

  • the month off, hoping to skip out on the most difficult part of work entirely.

  • While it was technically within the rules, they likely didn't make themselves any friends.

  • But for other workers, the new policy was a revolution.

  • One employee was coasting along, turning in all expected work, and was in good graces

  • with his bosses - who didn't even know how much vacation time he had taken, because no

  • one was tracking it!

  • He had taken almost two months' vacation by October of that year, and it hadn't caused

  • him any problems because he was well-organized and kept up on his deadlines.

  • His work-life balance was better than ever, and no one had any issues as long as his work

  • quality stayed high.

  • But it was clear that the program needed a little refining.

  • The first step fell on leadership.

  • Many thought they were displaying a good work ethic by working through the year, but in

  • fact were sending a dangerous message to their employees.

  • If the boss never takes time off, most employees will be too worried about giving a bad impression

  • to take their own time off.

  • This leads to an office full of exhausted workaholics - which is why Hastings takes

  • six weeks of vacation a year himself.

  • And he likes to consider himself a vacation evangelist, convincing all his department

  • heads to set a good example and take their own vacations.

  • But no policy can survive in a vacuum.

  • The key to making the policy work was one word - context.

  • Hastings knew that a disaster like the accounting affair couldn't happen again, and some employees

  • would always take advantage by skipping out on the most difficult part of their job unless

  • something changed.

  • So Hastings puts the responsibility on the managers again - they know the schedule of

  • their department, and they need to communicate to their employees when is an appropriate

  • time to take an extended vacation - and when they'd be leaving their co-workers in the

  • lurch.

  • But did the company's new policy stand the test of time?

  • Well, it's still in effect to this day, so it seems so!

  • And for Netflix, it seems to be paying off.

  • The company barely resembles what it was in 2003 - now being a streaming juggernaut that

  • not only features some of the most popular TV shows ever created, but has spawned countless

  • imitators in the streaming world.

  • And it certainly hasn't lost any of its productivity, as its digital-forward strategy

  • has led to giving employees more flexibility than ever.

  • Many work remotely, and remote workers can work just as easily from their hotel room

  • after a vacation day as they can from their home office.

  • And that has led to other companies jumping on board.

  • Kronos, Glassdoor, and most famously Richard Branson's Virgin Group added their own unlimited-vacation

  • policies, and the perk was seen as a big attraction for new hires.

  • After all, who wouldn't like the flexibility to go on vacation at any time - and have your

  • job support you and pay your salary while you're living it up?

  • It was usually most popular with high-tech companies that did much of their business

  • online, but even more traditional companies saw what was happening and wondered if it

  • was time to start competing.

  • But not everyone is behind the new vacation model.

  • Advocates for workers' rights say the policy sounds good in theory - but in practice it

  • might wind up doing more harm than good.

  • They say that employees will be dealing with arbitrary pressure from their co-workers and

  • bosses, and might feel like they're falling behind if they take off too much time for

  • work.

  • This is especially worrisome for Netflix's parental leave policy, which allows new parents

  • as much time as they want.

  • But if someone takes full advantage of this policy, they don't know what the office

  • will look like when they come back.

  • And not every company has found this policy benefits them.

  • German tech company Travis CI tried this system, and found that instead of being helpful for

  • employees, it actually created more office stress and made things more unequal.

  • Employees were nervous about taking time off, and no one wanted to be the one taking the

  • most vacation days.

  • It also caused arguments about privilege, as those who were more secure in their jobs

  • were more willing to take time off - especially if they had the money to take elaborate vacations.

  • The option to take vacations at any time might make some people less willing to take a vacation

  • at all.

  • And companies may have another motivation for trying this policy.

  • Vacation days are a cost for the company, and every one taken is a liability in their

  • books at the end of the year.

  • So when employees are given a traditional allotment of vacation days and have to take

  • them before they expire, they're more likely to actually spend them.

  • When they have an unlimited number, some think the company is hoping they don't actually

  • use them because of the demands of the job - and wind up taking less vacation days in

  • total than the average, saving the company money.

  • They think companies should ditch the unlimited vacation and instead offer generous vacation

  • packages.

  • But Netflix doesn't see any reason to change.

  • While there were some bumps in the road, the company's culture is thriving under the

  • unlimited vacation policy.

  • With managers instructed to encourage workers to take vacation and to communicate clear

  • expectations about when is NOT a good time for vacation, the company is expected to continue

  • to keep cranking out content and seeing its stock price rise.

  • So enjoy your vacation - just don't expect it to be the most relaxing vacation you've

  • ever had.

  • The producers of The Witcher are on the line.

  • For a look at some of the other big players in the digital world, check outYouTube

  • vs. TikTok - Who Will Win?” or watch this video instead.

You're working for Netflix!

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The Ugly Truth About Working for Netflix

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    Summer posted on 2021/09/24
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