Human Resources News & Insights

‘The Fool’s Errand’ – clever benefit fights burnout, boosts productivity

Even if you offer generous vacation benefits, there’s always going to be that one person who refuses to take time off and burns out because of it. But not at this company. It’s created a clever way of preventing employees from burning the candle at both ends.

The Motley Fool, a financial services company based in Alexandria, VA, has created “The Fool’s Errand.”

It’s a ritual where all 250 employees gather, put their names in one hat and wait to see who’s is drawn. That person is then required to take two consecutive weeks off, reported

But here’s the kicker: The two weeks must be taken immediately — within the ensuing month.

The company says this provides three benefits for both employees and the business:

  1. It makes sure employees are taking time off to recharge, which in turn increases productivity.
  2. It ensures the company isn’t too reliant on any one person by putting processes in place to make sure business doesn’t come to a halt when someone is absent, and
  3. It’s fun.

Two other companies with unique vacation policies:

  • The Marketing Arm. This Dallas-based marketing and promotions agency rewards employees who’ve been with the company for at least seven years with an extra seven days off and $2,500 to do something personally rewarding. Those who’ve been with the company at least 15 years get 15 extra days off and $5,000.
  • Red Frog Events. This Chicago-based event planning company offers its employees unlimited vacation days.

Source:Unlimited Vacation Doesn’t Create Slackers–It Ensures Productivity,” by Lydia Dishman,, 3/9/12.

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  1. I think the Motley Fool’s idea sounds good. SOUNDS good, but leaves some questions. Is this vacation a paid one? Am I being forced to use up my vacations days when I had plans for a later vacation? The list could go on and on…

  2. Lee Burbage says:

    We don’t track vacation. We trust Fools to take whatever time they need balancing the demands of their role. So, yes this is paid time off.

  3. Lee – do you have any openings? I would love to work for a company that trusts its employees to get their work done yet allows them to have a life away from work!

    Hope that attitude trickles down to my employer.

    Keep it up!

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