Where do we draw the line between chaining our workers to their desks, and letting them run rampant in the streets?

That’s the question that some HR policy makers face when designing (or in some cases, re-designing) a company’s vacation plan. Finding the right balance is no easy task. In a perfect world you would be able to offer your employees the sun, the moon, and the stars… but ultimately you settle for the standard time off for national holidays and (hopefully) 2 weeks paid vacation.

However, if you DO have the power to shake up the status quo when it comes to time off at your company, here are 7 vacation policies to consider…

1.   Summer Hours

Shuffling around the standard work week schedule during the lazy days of summer is an easy way to offer your employees a little more flexibility. Some companies shut down their offices a few hours early on Fridays; others allow employees to work an extra hour a day Monday to Thursday, and then have Friday afternoons free. Whatever you decide to do, summer hours could be a simple fix to spicing up your time off policy.

2.   Paid Birthday Holiday

Now you may be thinking: “It’s just one more day? What does one more vacation day mean to the average employee?” But it’s not just one more day, it is outright encouragement to spend more time with friends and family, promote a greater work-life balance, and celebrate the important things in life. So ditch the office cake, and give employees what they really wish for on their birthday: One more day off.

3.   “Pre-cation”

If you are looking to fill an important company role, your first choice candidate is most likely driven, passionate, and (quite possibly) two steps away from total burnout. The best way to combat this potential pitfall is to offer release and relaxation right up front. A “pre-cation” allows your new candidate to take a paid two week vacation before his or her first day on the job (talk about a perk!). If your company can’t provide a paid vacation, at least offer to be flexible, and float the idea of a delayed start date.  Overall, this helps to show that your company values the wellbeing of every employee (even before they join the team).

4.   Mandatory Vacation

The concept of mandatory vacation started in the Banking Industry, and was originally used to expose fraudulent activity – but this practice has more value than simply catching crooks. “Mandatory Vacation” means you are forced to disconnect (and more importantly, not feel guilty about it!). As an added bonus, this practice helps you to cultivate a work structure where no one team member can make or break the company, which means this policy is a win-win for employees and management.

5.   Paid, paid Vacation

(In case you haven’t noticed) there’s an overarching theme to instituting new vacation policies at work: It’s important to disconnect; and, as company, you need to provide opportunities for your employees to disconnect. What better way to accomplish these goals than to bribe your employees with a “vacation bonus”? It may sound like a crazy policy, but some companies swear by this new initiative to push their employees away from their desks and out the door (by offering to pay for a fabulous getaway). As they justify it, the potential dividends of having happy, healthy employees with the ability to disconnect and recharge seems to be worth the added investment of paying for employee vacations.

6.   Paid Sabbaticals

To the average workaholic, the idea of taking a 4 week vacation might sound like a death sentence – but the ability to fully rest and recharge after several long years of service might be an enticing offer worth considering. Paid sabbaticals are no longer confined to the ivory towers of higher education – Corporate America is finally catching on to this idea of “work hard, play hard.” And in a world of increasingly high turnover, persistent job hoppers, and employees who are constantly on the move, incentivizing hard work, long-term dedication, and company loyalty might not seem like such a bad idea.

7.   Unlimited Vacation Days

“Unlimited” vacation days have often been seen as something of a gimmick in the world of HR. Employees love the concept (in theory) and HR managers love to use it as a recruiting tactic. But the success (or potential failure) of the Unlimited Vacation Days Policy falls upon the shoulders of middle management to properly implement. You need to ensure all employees are given an equal opportunity to take advantage of the policy (i.e. don’t forget about those essential programmers – they like time off too!). However, when implemented successfully, unlimited vacation days can change the entire culture of a company, while at the same time cultivating a respected workforce that’s responsible for finding their own work-life balance.

Do you need help attracting high quality candidates to your open positions? Check out our Online Recruiting Guide: 11 Steps to Attract More Applicants.