Prime Company Vacation Policies for Productivity Like Motley Fool With 'The Fool's Errand'

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Motley Fool fights employees' reticence at taking a vacation with "The Fool's Errand," a random monthly drawing in which the winning employee must take two weeks off -- in a row -- within the next month. Despite the need for downtime to remain creative and productive, many of us pass up the chance for paid time off, whether it's out of employer-fueled guilt, an inability to step away from our current workload, or financial or personal reasons. In 2006, Expedia.com found that one-third of Americans fail to use all their vacation time -- and that was before the recession.

Alison Southwick, a spokesperson for Motley Fool, explained in a recent Fast Company article that "The Fool's Errand" has two purposes. "First, it helps make sure that people are taking time off, clearing their heads and recharging their batteries," she said. "Second, it helps us fight against single points of failure within the company. When you suddenly take two weeks off, you need to make sure that other people around you understand what you do so that the company doesn't come to a screeching halt if you're gone."

A vacation policy like that at Motley Fool also reinforces company culture: the lucky employee's name is picked out of a hat at an all-staff meeting, adding to the fun of a "mandated" vacation. What other inventive ways have you seen departments enforce downtime and time off?