Will US Employers Follow Branson's Vacation Policy?

September 24th, 2014
in econ_news

from Challenger Gray and Christmas

Employees at London-based Virgin Group, owned by billionaire Richard Branson, can now take as much vacation as they want, whenever they want. That’s pretty good news, particularly for Londoners who are already guaranteed at least 28 days of paid vacation and holidays by law. Virgin’s US employees are undoubtedly looking forward to the prospect of the new policy being extended to the entire organization. The question is, would US employees use the unlimited vacation?

Follow up:

A recent survey from the U.S. Travel Association shows that 40 percent of all Americans do not use all of their allotted vacation time, mostly due to the fear of being laid off or passed over for promotion. Even Branson’s decree came with caveats that might discourage vacation-wary Americans to underutilize the generous perk. According to Branson’s own blog post, he assumes staff will only take time off when they are up to date with their work, and feel their absence won't damage the business or their careers.

According to CNNMoney, Branson’s move was inspired by Netflix, which offers employees unlimited holiday time. Branson may want to consider following the lead of Massachusetts-based marketing software developer HubSpot (http://www.hubspot.com/jobs), which requires all employees to take at least two weeks off per year. Meanwhile, Evernote (https://evernote.com/careers/) and FullContact (http://www.fullcontact.com/about/careers/), provide financial incentives to actually use that time.

Should there be federal or state laws mandating vacation time? Why are companies like HubSpot and Evernote offering such generous vacation benefits? Will Branson’s status as a savvy business leader help the idea of unlimited vacation catch on with more organizations?

New Survey Demonstrates Value of College Degree

A survey released this week by Rutgers University found that more than 20 percent of workers laid off in the last five years have not found new jobs. While the survey demonstrates the unevenness of this recovery, it also provides compelling evidence for the value of a college degree. According to the report, the typical out of work person is likely to lack one.

“There has been a lot of debate in recent years about the value of a college degree in light of soaring tuitions, burdensome debt loads among graduates, and stagnant wages for entry-level professionals. However, the high unemployment rate as well as long-term unemployment among those with only a high school diploma certainly suggests that a college degree is valuable in terms of job security,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Indeed, the unemployment rate among those with a four-year degree and higher was just 3.2 percent in August. The unemployment rate nearly doubles (6.2 percent) for those with just a high school diploma. Meanwhile, those with less than a high school diploma are at 9.0 percent unemployment.

“This is not to say that the current model of higher education does not need to be reexamined. Out-of-control tuitions and graduate debt are serious problems that will have long-term effects on the economy. So, these issues need to be addressed by considering viable alternatives to traditional four-year universities. However, for the time being, obtaining a four-year college degree is still one of the best career moves a young person can make,” said Challenger.

What can be done to improve the job prospects for those suffering through long-term unemployment? Are there any steps long-time job seekers can take to improve their chances of finding employment? How do we address the problems that have caused many to question the value of a college degree?

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