Chinese company takes 6,400 employees on French vacation

Tiens Group will spend $15 million on a group vacation for over half of its employees. Is this the newest way to ensure employees take time away from work to become more productive?

Remy de la Mauviniere/AP
A Chinese company will pay $15 million to take 6,400 employees on a four day vacation in France.

There are companies that offer unlimited vacation time. There are companies that require their employees to take a vacation each year.

But have you ever heard of a company that dishes out $15 million to take its employees on a vacation?

Tiens Group, a Chinese company with 12,000 employees, organized a four-day group vacation to France for over half of its workers. With studies showing that vacations actually increase productivity in the workplace, is a paid Parisian company excursion the newest innovation in maximizing workplace performance?

Company chairman Li Jinyuan is a very successful businessman, having made Forbes’ 2011 billionaires list. He founded Tiens Group in 1995, and now conducts businesses in e-commerce, hotel, tourism, biotech, and other industries internationally. For the trip, the company booked 140 hotels for 6,400 employees, essentially taking over Paris for four days, reported The Guardian. They will also travel to Nice during their French vacation.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that about 75 percent of US employees received paid vacation time. But a study conducted on behalf of OfficeTeam found that only four in 10 of those employees actually use all of their vacation time. Two reasons for this, employees saving the days for a later time and not wanting to fall behind at work, accounted for 68 percent of responses. Another reason is guilt at taking time off.

“Managers may be hesitant to take extended time off because they fear their absence will be a hardship on staff and other executives,” says Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam, according to Business Insider. “Other workers may see their managers or colleagues skipping vacations and feel guilty about taking time off themselves. They don't want to look like they're not a team player or a slacker.”

Most agree that taking time off is better for employees’ overall health and well-being. In addition, it is better for business. The Wall Street Journal reported that 90 percent of 481 human resource managers said taking vacation time is “extremely or very important” to improving employee productivity.  

So how are companies combatting this strange employee problem? How do you make people take vacations?

One company, Authentic Jobs, decided that giving employees “unlimited” paid vacation time was not enough, since the majority of employees still took very few vacation days. Founder Cameron Moll said that in addition to having unlimited vacation days, they would also enact a new policy: Employees are required to take a minimum of 12 holidays and 15 vacation days a year.

 “Our overall health wasn’t as good as it could be,” Mr. Moll said, reported Think Progress. “We’re saying you need to take off at least 27 days per year and then beyond that if you need additional time, feel free to do it … Are you taking off enough time to ensure you’re as productive as you can be?”

Another problem encountered by companies was understanding that even if their employees took the vacation time, they still could not afford to actually go on a vacation. Some companies, such as software companies Evernote and FullContact, will pay their employees to go on vacation. Evernote gives employees a cash incentive of $1,000 to “go away” for the week, and they can only receive the cash after they return to ensure they take the time. FullContact started a program in 2012 that offers employees $7,500 annually to help finance personal vacations, reported Fox News.

Perhaps more companies will consider new ways of encouraging employees to take time off and come back refreshed. They may be surprised by the results. Mr. Hosking told Business Insider:

“Time away from work allows workers to recharge and regain motivation for their jobs. By taking a vacation, you can return to work with a fresh perspective and renewed energy, which can boost your productivity and effectiveness.”

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