If you work in an office, you probably get an annual allotment of days off every year. Depending on where you work, those vacation days may carry over to the next year. In many places they don’t, though. So what happens in a use-them-or-lose-them office? Everyone takes their unused vacation days at the end of the year, leaving offices so empty that even the few people working are less productive because they can’t complete any task that depends on their vacationing colleague’s input.
December is probably going to be a slow month regardless, but is there a way to improve productivity at the margin with some better choice architecture? Yes, says reader Clare Chamberlain who sends along an interesting solution devised by an unnamed British government department. An employee’s annual leave for the calendar year starts in their birth month. So if you were born in May, your 2010 vacation days would start on May 1, 2010. Right now, you’d still be using 2009 vacation days. Assuming your office isn’t populated by former professional athletes, the result is employee leave that is more evenly distributed throughout the year.
Addendum: The U.K. department is the Crown Prosecution Service.