At management services firm Humanyze,
employees follow a synchronized vacation schedule.
• Managers assign employees their time off during the
summer to maximize productivity.
• Even though employees do not have to take off during
their assigned times, most still do.
In the summer of 2016, Ben Waber began noticing something
As the president and CEO of management services
firm Humanyze, he
saw communications with French clients slow to a trickle as the
summer went on. In France, companies strive to curb a lag in
summer productivity by giving everyone the entire month of August
“It’s always been annoying from my perspective because you’re
trying to get a deal done or your trying to schedule something
and then it gets pushed out by two months,” he told Business
Despite his initial frustration, Waber realized that every week
between June and August, many of his own Humanzye employees would
be out of the office. This led to decreased productivity within
his own company as well.
“If you need to get four people together for a meeting, for
example, it could take a month to schedule,” Waber wrote in a
blog post for
Quartz at Work.
Waber began to think that it might be time for a change. He
decided to create a synchronized vacation policy of his own,
where managers assign employees their time off during the summer
to maximize productivity. He hoped to decrease employee absence
and enhance workplace productivity during the summer months.
At first, “people were actually a little concerned about it,”
Waber said. No one knew what to expect from the brand new
Despite the hesitation, Waber went through with his new vacation
In January 2017, Humanyze employees voted to determine the
specific weeks in the summer that they would like to take off.
“After tallying the votes, we picked the two most popular weeks
and assigned half the company one week and half the other week,
with priority given to people who had a preference,” Waber wrote
As an extra incentive, “if you took off the vacation week you
were assigned, it only counted as three vacation days,” he said.
Waber said that the idea was founded upon “the hypothesis that
many people are flexible about when they take a summer vacation.”
Although employees were strongly encouraged to take off on their
assigned weeks, the policy was by no means mandatory. Employees
still had the freedom to take vacation whenever they chose, but
everyone took off during their assigned weeks.
“Everybody is on vacation at the same time,” Waber told Business
Insider. “Using a different model can simplify things.”
According to Waber, the policy led to a drastic decrease in
employee absence throughout the season. Only 46% of other weeks
in the summer had partial employee coverage. That’s compared to
100% the previous year.
“Even if you’re a company looking
from a cold, hard economic standpoint, people are going to be
more productive,” Waber said when discussing his
He said his conclusion was corroborated by the massive amounts of
data the company collects regarding employee attendance. “We are
a people analytics company,” Waber said. “We have more data about
ourselves internally than any other company has ever had, because
of what we do.”
According to Market Watch, a typical US employee with paid
vacation only takes about half of their days.
Humanyze’s approach might be a valid solution for employees to
take more time off while increasing their overall productivity
for their respective companies.
“Some say that in the next five years everyone’s gonna copy our
model,” Waber said. “But I will say as more companies use data
about how their people work to manage their business, you are
gonna see more companies doing stuff like this.”