How About A Vacation–Or Pre-cation–Before You Start A New Job?

October 15, 2014  |  

Imagine taking a vacation before you start a new job. A pre-cation gives a new employee a chance to unwind from the last position and time to prepare for her new one. Jason Freedman, co-founder and CEO of San Francisco-based 42Floors, a commercial real estate search engine began offering pre-cations to all his new hires.

“The day they get their offer letter, it’s kind of like Christmas morning, in that they have a new job and they’ve already thought through the vacation they’re about to go on,” he told Slate. “We have a guy who’s about to start next week, and he’s in Thailand right now. It’s like, ‘Yeah, have a great time! And when you get back here, work your ass off.’ ”

Not a bad idea considering Americans work longer days and take less vacation than anyone else in the developed world. In fact, worker productivity has increased by 80 percent since 1973. Atlassian, a SanFrancisco- and Sydney-based enterprise software company, does not track vacation days for its 300-plus U.S. employees. Meaning unlimited vacation days. And the employees don’t take advantage of this. There has not been an increase in time taken off.

“We want people to bring their best every day, and we want them here for the long haul,” says Jeff Diana, Atlassian’s chief people officer. “Changing jobs is an important shift, and we want to give people time to recharge, spend some time with family. Because once you start a new job, you kind of jump all in.”

David Lewin, professor emeritus at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, however doesn’t see pre-cations becoming a trend, even though there was similar practice among companies that hire MBA graduates: “Especially in economic growth periods as opposed to recessions, they will negotiate over their start date. It happened a lot in 2006 and ’07, it happened in the late ’90s, and it’s starting to happen again. It probably reflects the same underlying notion: ‘We’re working our butts off, and gee, wouldn’t it be good to have a couple months off to go do whatever one does with free time, and then start fresh and ready to roll?’ ”

But Lewin notes that for the pre-cation policies “may come at a price that not every company can afford.”

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