Reed Hastings is bringing new meaning to the phrase “Netflix and chill.”
In a bid to encourage staffers at the streaming giant to take more time off, Hastings, who serves as Netflix’s co-founder and CEO, is hoping to lead by example with his own rather ample vacation allotment: six weeks every year.
“I take a lot of vacation, and I’m open about it internally,” Hastings said yesterday at the The New York Times DealBook Conference. “Just as you would expect, you often do your best thinking [when] you’re off hiking on some mountain or something and you get a different perspective…or you’re reading something that’s not connected to work.”
Fellow CEOs have also described the benefits of taking time away. While working 10-hour days at Google, for instance, Marissa Mayer said that she took “a week-long vacation every four months.” And though former Apple CEO Steve Jobs was notorious for calling staffers back to work mid-vacation, current chief Tim Cook “understands that people need to take vacations and have down time,” according to Apple biographer Yukari Kane.
Earlier this year, Netflix announced an unlimited parental leave policy, building upon the unlimited vacation policy that Hastings says has been in effect for the last “10 or 15 years.” Other companies, including Virgin, have rolled out similar programs.
However, while such policies may sound idyllic in theory, they can also have the polar opposite effect, resulting in less time spent away from the office by employees who feel as though their vacations are less tangible and earned. And numerous studies have found that U.S. workers leave vacation time on the table because they fear being perceived as dispensable, are addicted to their devices and dread work pileup upon their return.
This is precisely the mindset that Hastings is hoping to buck. “Most of us are so wrapped around efficiency in management that we don’t sufficiently value flexibility,” he said. “We’re willing to take some inefficiency narrowly and in edge cases to create an environment that’s extremely flexible because we think that outperforms in the long term.”