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You Deserve a Pre-cation

by Will Oremus


Photo courtesy Maciej Serafinowicz/Unsplash

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Jason Freedman was looking to hire a new employee at his startup, and he knew just the applicant he wanted for the job. The only problem was that the candidate’s current gig had left him frustrated and exhausted to the point of burnout, which was why he was on the market.
“Every other company he was talking to was asking, ‘How soon can you start?’ ” says Freedman, co-founder and CEO of 42Floors, a San Francisco-based commercial real estate search engine. Freedman wanted the guy, but he didn’t want him coming in haggard and beleaguered. So he made him a job offer with one stipulation: The candidate had to take a two-week paid vacation—before his first day. Delighted and relieved, the candidate accepted.
“We called it a pre-cation,” Freedman says. “It was only a couple of weeks, but he just came in so refreshed and energized, it was amazing.”
Freedman decided to begin offering pre-cations to all his new hires. “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.’ ”
It’s the perfect job perk for our overworked times. Americans work longer days and take less vacation than anyone else in the developed world. Worker productivity has increased by 80 percent since 1973. Meanwhile, 40 percent of Americans get less than seven hours of sleep per night. We deserve a break.