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We gave our employees free vacations as a benefit. Here’s what happened.

May 18, 2017

For 2016, Ervin & Smith decided to give a new employee benefit: free vacations. Not just time off, because we already have an unlimited time off policy. They gave employees the opportunity to have an experience, to get out of the office and go somewhere, on the company’s dime in the form of a travel voucher.

Turns out, this idea is a symbiotic relationship for both the company and its employees. There have been plenty of studies that show that time off for employees is a good thing. This one talks about how it’s good for your health by decreasing stress. This one even says it can improve job performance. Heidi Mausbach, our CEO, believes that travel is essential to creativity and helps employees “not only to reset, but to open our eyes to a new view—literally and figuratively—and return more positive and productive.”

At the time this is being written, 17 people have used their travel voucher toward a vacation, and 9 have trips planned. The red flags mark where people have gone, and the gray mark where others will be going. We did not mark a location more than once if multiple people visited.

Here is what our people had to say about this employee benefit having an impact on their lives:

“We used our voucher toward our honeymoon to Riviera Maya.” – Kilee Lorenz, Account Executive


“The trip was the highlight of my year. The weather was perfect, I saw Hamilton on my birthday, had a lovely dinner, then went to a bar across from our room to watch the Cubs win the World Series that night! It was unreal!” – Amanda Walla, Graphic Designer (visited Chicago, Illinois)


“This was a pretty cool trip, because I got to see my family after 10 years of not seeing them. It was also a special trip because my family in Mexico got a chance to meet my son and girlfriend for the first time, and they got a chance to see where I’m from and where I grew up.” – Robert Montiel, Production Artist (visited Mexico City, Mexico)


“We hiked to a waterfall known as Eternal Flame Falls, and it was quite the adventure! The waterfall has a small natural gas leak behind it that someone discovered years ago and lit up; every so often the flame will go out, so it needs to be relit. Really fun and neat experience! We also went to Niagara Falls and went on the Maid of the Mist, hiked some other neat areas to view waterfalls, and went to some local breweries.” – Amy Arnold, Developer (visited Buffalo, New York)

Here is what our employees had to say about this benefit having an impact on their work or company:

“As a new employee, it was pretty cool to see that I made a great decision by joining Ervin & Smith, a company that is willing to spend a little extra on employees in order to keep them happy.”

“It helped me have a mental refresh after disconnecting from the daily grind for the five days we were away.”

“Nebraska is so cold and gray in the winter. Going to Miami where it was warm and colorful helped reenergize and inspire me.”

“This was the first trip that I did not take my work laptop along with me on. It was wonderful.”

At a time when employees are taking less and less vacation time, we feel this benefit is mutually beneficial.