This CEO Gives Employees $5K A Year To Go On Vacation

Photographed by Anna Jay.
If you got time off for the Fourth of July but still spent it working, you're not alone. Americans are getting worse at taking vacations, with a recent Glassdoor study finding that the average U.S. employee who gets paid vacation or time off only used 54% of it in the last year.
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We're also taking our laptops to the beach: 66% of Americans report working during their vacations. By voluntarily forfeiting the precious few days off we already have, we're effectively putting money back in our employers' pockets.
So Jason Fried, the CEO of web-development company Basecamp, is onto something with the generous perks he provides his staff, which include a $5,000 annual vacation stipend. That's right: $5K to go wherever they want.
In addition to generous salaries and healthcare plans, Basecamp employees also receive $100 a month for home massages, $100 to buy fresh produce, 16 weeks of paid parental leave, tenured sabbaticals every three years, and only work 32-hour weeks during the summer, reported Business Insider.
The Chicago-based company can afford all of these perks because, at just over 50 employees, it's relatively small. It also helps that it is entirely self-funded — with no oversight from a board of directors — which gives it a level of freedom that larger organizations don't necessarily enjoy.
The perks seem to help with employee retention: More than 60% of the staff has worked there for four or more years.
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Fried told Business Insider that he views employees' standard of living as one of his top priorities, not just because it improves productivity but for its own sake.
"Go enjoy the weather, go enjoy the weekend, go on vacation," he said. "It's really about distancing yourself from this trend of being always on, always working."
Digital marketing and advertising company SteelHouse also pays its employees for their travels, offering $2,000 a year. CEO Mark Douglas says this has resulted in improved productivity and "virtually zero turnover" at the Culver City, CA-based firm.
The CEO of Boxed, Chieh Huang, is offering a different type of quality-of-life perk: He gives his employees up to $20,000 to pay for their weddings, and helps fund college tuitions as well. The idea came to him when he visited the Boxed warehouses and talked to employees who were struggling to make ends meet.
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