TAFEP Hero 2023 Oct
human resources online

Do your employees deserve a pre-cation?

What's better than taking a holiday? Being forced to take a paid holiday... before you even start your job.

It's called a pre-cation, and increasingly, innovative start-ups are using this not only as a early perk, but as a way to ensure new employees are refreshed, energised and ready to hit the ground running on their first day.

In an article on Slate, Jason Freedman, CEO of 42Floors, a commercial real estate search engine, said he decided to start offering the perk when hiring a new employee, who was shopping around for jobs and constantly being asked how soon he could start.

Freedman said he wanted this employee, but he was stressed and tired. So, he offered him the job - and a two week paid vacation before his first day to recover.

He dubbed it a pre-cation, and said the employee came back feeling "amazing". He then decided to offer pre-cations to all employees:

"The day they get their offer letter, it’s kind of like Christmas morning, in that they have a new job and they’ve already thought through the vacation they’re about to go on. We have a guy who’s about to start next week, and he’s in Thailand right now. It’s like, ‘Yeah, have a great time! And when you get back here, work your ass off.'"

And it sounds like it's a trend that's catching on. According to this Huffington Post article, software company Atlassian's chief people officer instilled the new perk recently, for the same reasons.


Billionaire Carlos Slim argues for 3-day work weekWhy you need to use all your holiday leaveWhich jobs provide the best work-life balance?

I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes a 'thing' now, but is it all it's cracked up to be? And is it really the answer to our seriously stressed-out and overworked lives?

In short, no.

In theory, it sounds like the perfect solution to our problems. In countries which offer hardly any vacation time - and as employees become more sleep-deprived than ever - giving new staff one or two weeks to chill out before starting would be a huge attraction for talent - especially as more people are looking for companies which value their work-life balance and mental health.

Also, it sounds cool, which isn't to be underestimated in a tight talent market.

But what this perk fails to acknowledge - and what I believe many new employees would overlook - is that the competition for jobs and the competition for talent leaves people pretty hesitant to even take the leave to which they are entitled for fear of negative repercussions.

True, this might be more the case in countries like America which struggle with higher unemployment, but even in the South East Asian region the work ethic we are so used to makes it hard for us to take time off - even when we really, really need it.

Especially considering some companies which offer employees unlimited vacation have "seen no significant uptick in the total amount of time its workers take off". What does that tell us?

I also think this perk is somewhat of a scary caveat. As Freedman said above, employees can take the pre-cation, but then they're expected to work their ass off. This in itself isn't surprising (I mean, everyone works their ass off in a new job) but if you want people on board long-term, you need to ensure the focus is on having a manageable work-life balance or integration, rather than a big break followed by relentless work and long hours. 

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts, or whether you've considered offering something similar?

Image: Shutterstock

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