Guest Post: Freedom and Responsibility: Why Netflex Scrapped Its Vacation Policy by David Burkus


David Burkus is one of the most readable and thought-provoking folks talking about progressive management and leadership.  His new book titled Under New Management debuts on Amazon 5.  I am pleased to host the following guest post.

This original post was inspired by concepts from chapter three of Under New Management. This case study examines Netflix’s decision to completely scrap its standard vacation policy immediately following its move to a publicly traded company, relying instead on the maturity and common sense of its employees to do the right thing.

b1e8b0cd-f5de-4901-853c-2dac404c4a62Freedom and Responsibility: Why Netflix Scrapped its Vacation Policy

When Netflix went public in 2002, company leaders weren’t expecting to end up changing their long-standing vacation policy. Before it becoming a publicly traded company, Netflix’s vacation policy looked like those of most companies: you get a certain number of vacation days per year, and any days left over you lose, roll over, or get paid extra for at the end of the year. This kind of policy is largely a holdover from the industrial age, when factory managers needed to ensure that all shifts were properly covered.

At Netflix, people received ten vacation days, ten floating holidays, and a few sick days. Employees were on the honor system, keeping track of the days they took off and letting their managers know when and how many they took. Freedom and responsibility are strongly valued in the Netflix culture, but after going public, culture and regulations collided. The first collision was instigated by the company’s auditors, who claimed that Sarbanes-Oxley rules for public companies required Netflix to account for all time off taken by employees and that the honor system was inadequate for tracking. Continue reading

Something Coming, Something Good …


David Burkus has a new book coming out tomorrow, which should be very good news to us all …

b1e8b0cd-f5de-4901-853c-2dac404c4a62David is a professor, author of The Myths of Creativity and other best-selling leadership and management titles, and a very clear thinker about leadership and management.  He writes concisely, with warmth and humor, and is useful to anyone who cares about making our workplace interactions more effective and more human.

I will have more to say about his new book, cleverly called Under New Management:  How Leading Organizations are Upending Business as Usual, later this week.  

In the meantime, do two things for me, would you?

… Read sample chapters of both books and explore other resources by visiting David’s webpage.  

… For a taste of his thinking and personality, watch this  short TEDTalk charmingly titled Why Do We Keep Our Salaries Secret?. 

DO THESE THINGS AND YOU WILL KNOW WHY I AM SO EXCITED THIS WEEK …

Enjoying something old (The Myths of Creativity), something new (Under New Management), and something very useful (fresh thinking) in the Heartland ….

John