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无限假期 = 更少休假
Why unlimited vacation means more time in the office

来源:FT中文网    2017-12-04 07:41



        Whenever I get an email from LinkedIn telling me about all the new jobs I could apply for, I usually click delete. But last week, desperate to put off filling in a long tax form, I started trawling through the site’s latest job openings, and discovered something disturbing. One of the most annoying fads to come out of Silicon Valley in the past few years — the unlimited vacation policy — has spread.        每当我收到领英(LinkedIn)发来的电邮,告诉我所有我可以申请的新工作时,我通常都会点击删除。但最近,填写冗长的税表让我不胜其烦,便开始在领英网站上浏览最新的职位空缺,从中发现了一些令人不安的现象。过去几年在硅谷流行的最让人恼火的风尚之一——无限年假政策——已经蔓延开来。
        It does not seem that long ago that boundless time off was a novelty promised by the likes of Netflix, LinkedIn itself and Virgin’s Richard Branson, who said he got the idea from Netflix. Now it is being offered by law firms in London, loan companies in Latvia, recruiters in Berlin and electronics outfits in Taipei. “Work hard and take time off when you need it,” chirped a typical advert I spotted from Taiwan’s Tomofun, a company that makes a camera for watching housebound pets from your desk.        Netflix、领英本身和维珍集团(Virgin)等企业向员工提供无限年假,似乎还是不久前发生的新鲜事;维珍的创始人理查德•布兰森(Richard Branson)说,他是借鉴了Netflix的做法。现如今,伦敦的律所,拉脱维亚的贷款公司,柏林的人力资源公司,甚至是台北的电子产品生产商都开始提供无限年假。“工作时努力工作,需要休假时就休假,”这是台湾友愉公司(Tomofun)的一句很具代表性的广告语。该公司的摄像机产品让宠物主人通过手机上的APP,在办公室里看到家中宠物的动态。
        The contagion is no real surprise. It is hard to think of another work perk that promises so much and delivers so little — to workers. It is a different story for companies. A big firm that ditches fixed paid leave for open vacations can wipe millions of dollars worth of unused leave liabilities from its books that would otherwise be paid to departing employees. At the same time, it can safely offer bottomless holidays knowing most employees will never take them, especially in the US, the only major advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee workers paid vacation time.        无限年假蔓延并不真的让人意外。很难再想到一种给员工画一张大饼,最终兑现却很少的工作福利了。对公司而言,这完全是另一回事。一家大企业如果放弃固定带薪假期,转而实施无限年假,就可以从账面上抹去数百万美元的未用年假负债。如果实行固定带薪休假制度,就必须在员工离职时把未用年假折算成一笔款项,支付给相关员工。与此同时,公司可以放心地提供无限年假,因为他们知道,多数员工是永远不会使用这项福利的。这一招在美国尤其好用,因为该国是全球唯一不保证向员工提供带薪休假的主要发达经济体。
        American workers took an average of 16.8 vacation days last year, according to one report I read recently, and often fail to use up all their leave, largely because they “fear returning to a mountain of work”. In Europe, where workers are guaranteed at least four weeks’ paid leave, the thought of this American import creeping into more and more offices is awful.        据我最近看到的一份报告,美国雇员去年平均休假16.8天,且经常无法休完所有的年假,主要是因为担心休假回来后面对“堆成山”的工作。在欧洲,所有雇员都保证享有至少四周的带薪假期,一想到这种从美国输入的新做法正在向越来越多的公司渗透,就让人不寒而栗。
        I can think of one or two people who would charge off for six weeks in Goa if they could. But I know more who would feel too pressured to try it, especially if they had to justify time off that was once ordained. Sure enough, evidence is already rolling in showing that people end up taking fewer days off at companies that have abandoned firm rules on holidays in favour of open schemes.        在我认识的人当中,我能想得到有一、两个人会抓住机会到印度果亚(Goa)休假六周。但我知道,多数人会感到压力太大而不敢尝试,尤其是在他们不得不为过去明文规定的假期找理由的情况下。果然,已经不断有证据显示,在放弃明确的带薪年假规则、转而采用无限年假政策的公司,员工休假天数更少了。
        After speaking to several people last week who work for US companies with unlimited vacations, I can see why. Most worked at tech start-ups and were happy enough with the policy. But the story that sticks in my mind came from a woman who was initially thrilled to be able to take two weeks off for her honeymoon this year.        前一阵子,在与几位在实行无限年假政策的美国公司工作的员工交谈后,我明白了其中的原因。多数人在科技初创公司工作,他们对这项政策还算满意。但一位女员工的故事深深地印在我的脑海里。最初,她为今年能休两周假度蜜月感到振奋。
        The trouble was, she had been invited to a wedding abroad early next year and did not think she could go because she felt “too nervous” about asking for another week off. So much for unlimited leave.        麻烦的是,她又接到邀请,明年初到海外参加一个婚礼,她认为她去不了,因为她觉得“太紧张”,张不开口再请一周假。无限年假不过如此。
        The interesting thing is that she was thinking of switching jobs and did not want to go back to a job with the traditional two weeks of paid vacation a year.        有意思的是,正在考虑换工作的她,不愿回到传统的提供两周带薪年假的公司。
        That underlines something that I had not thought about before: some companies are doing better at using open holiday schemes to make their workers less exhausted, happier and potentially more productive. But they probably have to be run by people like Aron Ain, chief executive of the Kronos management software group. He decided to introduce open vacations at the beginning of 2016, after struggling to recruit workers. But he did not do it willy-nilly, as he explains in this month’s Harvard Business Review.        这凸显出一些我之前没有想到的问题:有些公司在使用无限年假方面做得更好,他们借此给员工减压,让他们更加身心愉悦地工作,潜在提高工作成效。但这些公司的经营者很可能要像管理软件提供商Kronos的首席执行官艾伦•艾因(Aron Ain)一样。在遭遇了招聘人才方面的困难后,艾因于2016年初决定推出无限年假政策。不过,他最近在《哈佛商业评论》(Harvard Business Review)上解释说,他并没有乱来。
        He decided to return any savings to employees, by boosting maternity leave and other benefits. He used a consultant to figure out pitfalls, such as people being afraid to ask for too much time off. He also tried to sidestep such problems by insisting employee leave was tracked to make sure managers were handling leave requests fairly.        他决定将由此产生的成本节省回馈给员工,增加产假天数,并改善其它福利。他聘请了一家咨询公司,帮助梳理此举可能会产生的弊端,比如员工不敢请太长的假。他还试图规避这类问题,坚持要求员工休假情况得到追踪,以确保各级经理公平地处理休假申请。
        The result: employees took off an average 2.6 more days last year than in 2015. Voluntary turnover dropped. Workers said they were happier and Mr Ain thinks it is no coincidence that 2016 was Kronos’s best financial year ever.        结果是:去年,员工平均休假天数比2015年多了2.6天。自愿离职减少。员工们表示他们更愉快了。艾因认为,2016年是Kronos有史以来业绩最佳的一年并非巧合。
        I am not sure about that link but I have revised my opinion. I can see that there are upsides to unlimited vacations, but only at companies with an unlimited commitment to making sure that they actually work.        我不能确定这其中的关联。不过,我调整了我的看法。我认为,无限年假有它的好处,但只是在无限致力于确保此项政策奏效的公司。
                
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