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Sarah Green Carmichael

Goldman Sachs Now Has Wall Street's Best Vacation Policy

Most people don’t need a vacation requirement. But such policies help create a healthier culture at the office.

Committed to taking time off.

Committed to taking time off.

Photographer: Ulises Ruiz/AFP/Getty Images

Goldman Sachs has just unveiled a new vacation policy offering unlimited time off for managing directors and partners and — more radically — requiring that all employees take at least 15 days off per year, five of which must be consecutive. The idea of unlimited vacation time has been around for a while, especially in tech. But making vacation required? That’s a novel experiment and one worth trying.

The idea of unlimited vacation time, which sounded like nirvana when companies such as Netflix Inc. adopted it more than a decade ago, has turned out to be a mixed bag for employees. Some report higher levels of job satisfaction. Others find themselves taking fewer days off than they did under more traditional policies. One widely cited nonacademic study found that employees took an average of 13 days off at companies offering unlimited time, rather than 15 at organizations with traditional plans. Additional studies have found that the average number of days taken stayed roughly the same or even increased, but that norms between employees varied pretty widely.