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CEO offers ultimate perk: vacation cash

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Many organizations give employees a specified number of annual paid days off—perhaps 10 or 15—in addition to a handful of federal holidays. Bart Lorang felt that wasn’t enough.

Lorang is founder and CEO of FullContact in Denver, which makes cloud-based contact management applications. After returning from a vacation to Egypt a few years ago, he noticed a photo of himself riding a camel in front of the famous pyramids. But instead of marveling at the captivating sights, he was texting.

Realizing that he sabotaged his trip by failing to unplug from his work, he wondered if his employees fell into the same trap. So he decided to dangle an unusual carrot to induce them to take true vacations: a large wad of cash.

In 2012, Lorang announced that the firm would pay each staffer $7,500 to take a vacation once a year. He included three ground rules: The employee must go on an actual vacation to earn the bonus, disconnect completely and avoid doing any work while traveling.

He explained that disconnecting was especially important, because many em­ployees get wedded to their smartphones and other devices. To recharge, he wanted his team to go off the grid and experience their vacation in full.

“It’s super important for people to disconnect,” Lorang wrote in his company blog. “It’s so important at FullConnect that we will actively incentivize this behavior.”

Lorang added that the vacation payment also sought to help employees overcome “the hero syndrome” in which they assume they’re the only ones who can handle certain crucial tasks. To enjoy the bonus, they need to train colleagues and share knowledge more readily so that they can unplug and relax while away from the office.

—Adapted from “Paid, Paid Vacation,” Bart Lorang, www.fullcontact.com.

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