OES - Organizational Effectiveness Solutions

Our Vision: Breaking Convention. To never stop questioning the status quo and looking beyond accepted best practices.

We spend about 70% of our waking lives at work, commuting to work or thinking about work. Such a huge investment and still, Canadians aren't satisfied at work. This is a place to share thoughts and ideas on how to improve workplaces. I want to hear from employees, business leaders and anyone who wants to learn about how to make work better.

My name is Mehdi Kajbaf, I am an enthusiastic blogger, professional facilitator and Schulich MBA Alumni.

My services include health and wellness training through my partnership with Shepell.FGI, (time management, productivity, stress), teamwork and leadership coaching, recruitment assistance through my partnership with Ascentii's cloud based solutions and a range of other personalized solutions to help improve the effectiveness of your organization. Please see my services for more details.

Feel free to submit a link or ask me a question. I'm also available on LinkedIn and Twitter via the links below.

Mehdi Kajbaf
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Vacation Time Around the World

Who thought it was a good idea to make 2 weeks vacation standard?  In North America, 2 weeks is the standard for starting, but not so in other parts of the world where the minimum days is much higher.  Australians get 4 weeks standard plus 10 national holidays.  The German’s, known for their hard work ethic get 4 weeks plus 9-13 holidays.  Have a look at the average vacation days for the G8 countries here.

What makes things worse is that even while on vacation, employees are still plugged in.  23% of employees check email/voicemail, 17% are available for emergencies, 17% don’t stop working at all and only 43% are completely unplugged.  

FullContact - Paid, Paid Vacation

Not so at FullContact.  FullContact, an online contacts organizer takes the extraordinary step of giving employees $7,500 to take vacation.  That’s right, not only do you get paid your regular salary, but a bonus of $7,500 to ensure that you take your vacation.  It comes with some caveats though.

  1. You have to go on vacation, or you don’t get the money
  2. You must disconnect
  3. You can’t work while on vacation

Sounds crazy?  Well so far at FullContact they are very happy with their policy, and it has encouraged some fantastic stories that you can read on their site.

NetFlix - Unlimited Vacation

What sounds more crazy, paid, paid vacation or unlimited vacation?  NetFlix believes their employees are responsible and mature enough to manage unlimited vacation.  They have gotten rid of the bureaucratic nightmare that is vacation and instead left it to the employees to figure it out.  Check this article out for more info.

Hastings said Netflix gauges success by focusing on what employees get done, not on how many days they worked. The CEO does make sure to be a good role model and takes vacations, where he can do some creative thinking.


NetFlix is not the only company with unlimited vacation.  Social Media Group in Toronto has unlimited vacation.  It increase retention, reduces burden on HR, it helps attract great talent, empowers employees, can help reduce expensive bonuses or incentive programs and helps employees feel much more relaxed.

Benefits of Vacation

The benefits of vacation are plentiful for both the vacationer and the company.  This article from fast company provides 10 great reasons, but I’ll talk about a few that really stood out to me personally.

You Let Other People be “Important”

Do not be the person who thinks they are so important that the company will fall apart without them.  Especially as a boss or manager, where it is important to delegate and develop others.

You Will be More Productive

This works on two levels. On one hand, you will be refreshed and energized so you can work at a higher capacity.  On the other hand you will take advantage of Parkinson’s Law (Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion) as you will be forced to be more focused and efficient.

You Will Prioritize Better

When stuck in the day to day, everything seems important.  Stepping away for some time helps you realize what truly matters.

If none of this convinces you, check out this incredible talk by Stefan Sagmeister who closes his NYC design shop once every 7 years.  He closes the shop completely and makes it unavailable to all clients.  His remark on the value of his sabbatical:

…basically everything we’ve done in the seven years following the first sabbatical came out of thinking of that one single year. And I’ll show you a couple of projects that came out of the seven years following that sabbatical.

Here is one of is cooler projects.

obsessions make my life worse and my work better

Bottom Line

Employees should take more vacation, and companies should be supportive.  Canada and US are far behind the rest of the world with their limited vacation times, and I believe it is to the detriment of our health and the success of businesses.  

Other Relevant TED Talk

http://www.feld.com/wp/archives/2010/10/my-tedxboulder-presentation-on-the-quarterly-week-off-the-grid.html