Unlimited Paid Leave? Oh yes.

You saw that right.  As of today, we've made a somewhat radical change to our corporate policies.  Every single full-time Social Strata employee now has access to unlimited paid leave.  Why would we take such a step?  It's because we are building a culture of discipline, as defined in Jim Collins' seminal books, Built to Last (co-authored with Jerry Porras) and Good to Great.

Ted & I have been fans of the principles outlined in those books for years now, and our copies are dog-eared, highlighted, and sticky-noted all over the place.  We may sometimes fall short, but we are always striving to align with the bedrock concepts of Good to Great companies.  One of the key tenets is the "Culture of Discipline."  Here's a great quote:

"Disciplined people who engage in disciplined thought and who take disciplined action—operating with freedom within a framework of responsibilities—this is the cornerstone of a culture that creates greatness. In a culture of discipline, people do not have “jobs;” they have responsibilities."

In that spirit, we decided that, if we have the "right people on the bus," i.e., people who are passionate about what they're doing, we don't need to set artificial limits on the amount of time they can take off, or why they can take time off.  Disciplined people will ensure that their responsibilities are handled, and still be able to recharge their batteries with time off.  Undisciplined people who take advantage of the system will reveal themselves and be naturally sorted out.

What all of this means for our customers is that our products and services are conceived, developed, managed, and marketed by a smart, disciplined, and passionate group of people. I feel that sort of culture will result in amazing service, from the inside out.


I'd love to hear your thoughts here in the comments, or connect with me on Twitter.

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I was very pleased to find this site.I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post. Thanks for your blog 

We saw the article and wanted to salute you! My husband and i are the owners of ZenSpot, Inc. in Eugene, Oregon. www.zenspotmbs.com and the hosts of ZenSpot Radio on 1320AM in Eugene or www.1320inforadio.com. We have begun a Healthy Leadership Project that we would love for you to be part of. Might you be interested in coming on our live show? We air Fridays from 3-4PM. We'd love to interview you as part of our Healthy Leadership campaign. Let me know if you are interested. We'd love to chat with ya- info@zenspotmbs.com or 541-337-8433. Thanks for being progressive and promoting healthy and holistic living!

Kelli P. Harrington, Ed.D., RYT
Co-Founder & Managing Partner
ZenSpot, Inc.
I hope it works -- I think it is a great way to treat employees. I don't think our bunch is ready for it. Too many little squabbles and turf wars going on.

How do you handle abuse? At some point, if it is abused, some kind of action has to occur. I know that you have exceptional employees and don't anticipate any problems, but do you have a plan for what to do if someone does abuse it?

Sounds like a great system for o/c overachievers who have no other lives.
Not at ALL true, donnarae!  Ever since I've started working at Social Strata (10 years in May), I've heard about the necessary balance of life and work, and I've been encouraged to live outside of work.  All of us have lives, some of us have small children and some have important parts to play in others' lives.  There are no overachievers with no other lives here!

This CAN work.  In ANY company.  The key is finding employees who are committed, but that doesn't mean they are married to the company, it means they care about the company and the future that we all share.
I don't understand how this works with medical leave. What if someone has a long illness -- are they still getting paid their usual wages/salary?

In my company, we believe we are renting 40 hours per week of our employees' time. We do not expect them to work longer hours to do their jobs. We would never put them in the position of competing against each other for who can work the longest hours.

We have single mothers and older people on our payroll. We have no desire to pit these people against their peers when they have other responsibilities or limitations that other employees do not have.

Sounds like a great system for o/c overachievers who have no other lives.
I would like to commend you for the spirit of your efforts. Hopefully, your smaller payroll will allow you to make this system work. But for most corporations, I firmly believe this approach would be doomed to failure. This policy will turn into a nightmare for any who would rebel against the oppression seen in corporations who create policies based on the performance of the LCD. The standard will be set not by "Disciplined people who engage in disciplined thought and who take disciplined action" but rather by the compulsive workaholics and those with unsatisfactory/toxic home lives. These are the people who will happily engage in 70 hour work weeks, skip holidays, and work on the weekends simply because they have nowhere better to be, The disciplined worker who devotes 40 excellent work hours each week and would like to take 2 weeks vacation in the summer will always appear to be the "slacker" compared to the O/C malcontent described above and the management team capable of spotting and appreciating the actual production disparity between the two is so rare as to make gold seem common as gravel. I hope you prove me wrong.
Hi Rosemary, I heard about this news on King 5 today and admire you for your courage and conviction. I am a fan of this style of leadership and have had little success implementing it myself. I would love to be able to chat with you sometime, if you have some time. I look forward to hearing back from you. PS: I am not looking for a job . Tarang | http://tarangkaushal.livejournal.com/ MBA Candidate, Class of 2010 Michael G. Foster School of Business University of Washington
Are you talking about the GaGaJoyJoy users? If so, then that would be due to that community being merged into LiveCloud. The original Groupee and LiveCloud are the same thing (at the core), just with the addition and subtraction of some features.
Why do you think it was that there was  no trouble on the original Groupee side of things until it merged into LiveCloud?. You have to admit we had a very well behaved bunch. Sadly this no longer exists as a result of these "rogue group of members" We had something special IMO.
I hear & see where you are coming from. At work I have to carry over & or "bank" leave I have not taken in a "leave year". So the following year I have more to take but I still may not have the need to take this leave.
If the concept of unlimited leave was used, this situation would not exist & I would be comfortable in the knowledge that should the circumstances occur the leave would be available if required... Simple..

Having said that, I do work with some (very undisciplined)  people that would be rubbing their hands with glee at the sight of your blog title and making preparations for 3 day working weeks!!

Commitment has to be earned by the employers. Our employers treat staff like cattle. They herd them around moving them from field to field for no real purpose other than the fear that the employee gets to comfortable.

Strangely enough it was just today they all of our managers have just been informed that they are being swapped around. No reason given, they just have to move.

"Undisciplined people who take advantage of the system will reveal themselves and be naturally sorted out."
Sorted out eh? The mind boggles