Fast-Growing HomeAway, Inc. Learns Lesson from Europe, Encourages Travel with Unprecedented Vacation Policy
Austin, TX, March 9, 2007 — Designed to buck national trends of overworked, stressed-out and vacation-starved employees, two-year-old HomeAway, Inc. today announced a forward-thinking vacation policy that gives its 100 U.S. employees four weeks of vacation a year, regardless of employee tenure.
As the world leader in online vacation rentals and with three international offices, Austin-based HomeAway now provides full-time U.S. employees 27 days of paid vacation and holidays and addresses the disparity between U.S. and global vacation plans. Surveys show American workers average 14 days of vacation per year, compared to 39 in France, 27 in Germany, 24 in Great Britain and 19 in Canada.
"HomeAway has offices in the UK and Germany, but our recent acquisition of Abritel.fr, a vacation rental site in France, made the inconsistency of the vacation policies glaringly apparent," says Brian Sharples, founder and CEO of the online travel company that has 186 employees worldwide.
"Vacations and travel are at the core of HomeAway's business. This policy has the extra benefit of allowing all our employees to get closer to our customers and the product and service we provide," he says.
Whether employees have worked at the company for one month or 15 months, all now receive 20 days of paid vacation and seven paid holidays. While employees earn vacation monthly, they can take more days than accrued, resulting in a "negative balance" that is paid back over time.
"As a young and fast-paced company, we know we place significant demands on our team," Sharples says. "The stress of a high-growth environment can take a toll on employees so it's critical they have the time off to get away and recharge."
Research shows regular vacations are preventive medicine, cutting down on stress-related illness, reducing health care costs, and improving worker productivity.
"Given that most employees must work five to 10 years at a company to earn 20 vacation days, this is clearly a very generous U.S. vacation policy," says Daniel Hamermesh, an economics professor at the University of Texas at Austin who studies Americans' use of time. "Vacation is an important, hard-earned commodity. This policy contributes to the recognition of the health and mental benefits employees derive from a work-life balance."
With two children, ages 13 and 15, Software Engineer Anita Dodia says HomeAway's vacation policy is a huge benefit for her and her family. "For the first time, I have enough vacation that I can take time off during my children's school breaks instead of hoarding all of my vacation for the holidays," she says. "We can enjoy the week-long Spring Break and take an extended vacation during the summer when the kids are out of school - and I will still have time left over for the holidays and for those times you just need to take a day off to manage errands."
Sharples hopes HomeAway's innovative vacation policy inspires other U.S. companies to design similar plans that aid in recruitment, retention and general workplace happiness and productivity.
In November 2006, HomeAway announced $160 million in financing to fund global expansion initiatives, including the acquisition of VRBO.com, the leading for-rent-by-owner Web site. With its recent acquisitions, HomeAway's portfolio of sites now lists more than 180,000 homes across 100 countries. The company will attract more than 100 million unique visitors to its sites in 2007.
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