Holacracy Community of Practice Archive, 2015-2019 Community Holacracy Web Site

Vacation Policies

We're trying to figure out how to handle vacation policies. Would love to hear how everyone's organization handles it.

7 Replies
Jean-Michel Gode

Hi Fred,

What exactly your tension is? Can you give an exemple ?


Fred Magovern

Our CEO has a domain of "Employee-related policies, including compensation and the company handbook". In v1.0 of the handbook he created, our vacation policy is basically "we're all adults; check with your team, and make sure you get your work done".

At our last company-wide meeting (not a holacratic one), he said he's worried as we grow this policy will break down. (In case it's relevant, there's no indication our team size is increasing anytime soon.) So he shared his current idea: release dates on a quarterly basis for two quarters ahead of time, and then those with the most seniority (time at company) get first dibs. He then invited input / feedback that felt uncomfortably consensus-based to me.

My modest experience to date suggests holacracy excels with role-based concerns, and doesn't translate as directly to "soul"-based concerns. Just as there are "apps" for compensation, I'm wondering if the same is true for vacation policies.


What makes your CEO afraid that this policy might break down? In general, wouldn't it be better to see if and how the system breaks. Than you'd know what to fix instead of designing a solution up front.

Fred Magovern

Agreed Joris. I was hoping to have a counter-proposal prepared for him when making this case though.


Hi Fred! 

We didn't have any regulation on vacation at first, and then we had the situation that a few people went on vacation without letting some people know that felt they should've been informed. We also had the situation that some Lead Links were "approving" people's vacations, which is not part of that role. Out of these tensions we created a policy that looks like this: 

"If a member of the organisation wants to go on vacation, the request will be approved by @People_&_Workspace under the following conditions:

1. The requester has communicated their desired holiday period to their most relevant colleague(s) in all circles in which they actively fill a role and has integrated any objections.
2. The requester has determined and documented a substitution for their tasks, projects and/or roles for the time that they will be absent. If no substitution is needed, the requester has documented this step as "N/A" and stated a reason.
3. The requester has filled out the Google Form below to answer points 1.- 2.:

_ link to Google Form _

Any circle member of the person requesting the holiday may voice objections to a requested holiday. The objection must be integrated following the process described in Article 3.2.6 of the Holacracy Constitution (www.holacracy.org/constitution#art326). "

The Google Form with all the entries is accessible for anyone in the company and can be filtered by circle. We have also created a role "Holiday Facilitator" in the People & Workspace circle that checks the entries into the form to make sure the requester has followed the steps outlined in the policy and if he/she has, the holiday is entered into our HR system. If not, the Holiday Facilitator guides them to take the necessary steps and help integrate any objections (this has never happened before so we don't really have a process for that yet). 

The steps are pretty common sense, and we've left it to the requester to decide who the "most relevant colleagues" are, rather than saying holidays must be reported to the LL, for example. Also by giving the People & Workspace circle (and a role within that circle) the task of taking care of "approving" the vacation (although its basically a self-approving process) we also stop that from becoming a LL task and giving the impression that LLs are managers. 

That being said I'm not 100% happy with this process because I think we could be more self-managed, but I think its better than it was before

Hope that helps!



*oh and happy for feedback or suggestions for improvement btw! 

Tyler Danke

Policy: Flexible Work
After 30 days, an employee is allowed to choose their own location, hours, and schedule, as long as they are able to meet their accountabilities for their role(s). Employee will keep anticipated future schedule updated in Google Calendar.

We adopted this policy maybe a month ago. It was actually quite similar to the prior situation but not stated so clearly and in so few words so then it was not taken 100% seriously. Now it is being taken seriously. I fully believe that it is creating more Customer Paradise and Team Happiness. We are now covering phones from 8 am to 10 pm instead of just 8 am to 4:30 PM.

We actually added location to the policy just a week ago.

It sounds like you need to (and maybe already have) done some governance around this issue.