THE BLOG
10/27/2014 11:54 am ET Updated Dec 24, 2014

Nice Perq If You Can Get It; "Pre-cations" and "Vaca' Your Way"

Pre-cations are paid vacations before starting a new job including salary and expenses for your chosen trip. Is this reality or California Dreamin'?

Looking for work with the ultimate (perquisite) perq? You can get it if you try. This just may be the answer to your dreams, vacation dream that is.

On Huffpost Live, I had the pleasure to share a segment about pre-vactions with Huffpost Live Host Nancy Redd, Jeffrey Diana, Chief People Officer from Australian company Atlassian based in California and Rafat Ali, the CEO of Skift, the largest travel industry marketing platform. It is well worth tuning in to the segment to see one of the newest trends in employment. You're hired, now go on an all expenses and salary paid vacation before you start work.

We have found it folks, the premier perq on the planet. On the surface, this looks a little crazy but the concept is grounded in serious reality at software company Atlassian. They not only give pre-cations, they give their employees all the time off they want in a Vaca' Your Way Program. They want new employees to clear their heads before making the transition to their company, give back to the newbies before starting. Ongoing, they make sure employees have all the time off necessary to keep them productive and happy -- a relatively small cost to the company according to Chief People Officer Diana.

The pre-cation concept is likened to giving the new box of crayons to the new kids in class. But at Atlassian, the more seasoned workers get paid trips every three or so years. Is the message here, once they start work they will be working uber schedules and work excessive hours?

Joining Atlassian, is a small percentage of companies that don't limit and don't track attendance. The benchmark measures whether they simply get the work done. To name a few, Zynga, Groupon, Ask.com, Motley Fool and the Virgin Group.

Atlassian is not a publicly held company. According to Diana, they are pre-initial public offering (IPO). A privately held organization has a unique ability to make decisions about employee expenditures and reward systems but that may change with an IPO. With public stockholders, expenditures may be a challenge for this extreme type of time off culture, or perhaps not with their proven success.

In reality, this is not a new concept; new employees have been given signing bonuses since the early 1900s. The practice took a dip in the most recent decades due to economic downturn. Signing bonuses waned with a surplus of candidates. But studies show signing bonuses show dedication and recognition of their talents.

Statistics are clear; employees are reluctant to take vacation. According to Rafat Ali, CEO of Skift, 51 percent of employees haven't taken a vacation day in 2014 and 63 percent haven't traveled in over a year. Employees are concerned that they will be deemed less valuable if they take time off. Many cannot afford vacations and spend money without salary increases.

The average American workweek now consists of 46.7 hours supporting the fear of taking time off.

These trendy concepts would be a hard sell for the public sector. Expenditure of taxpayer money would be challenged requiring clear reins around employee time off. Labor unions want well-defined entitlements and focus on seniority making this process difficult to define and manage.

One of the most challenging management issues has always been controlling attendance problems and time management. Definitely, in each manager's career a little rain will fall. The fact remains that there WILL BE abuses of attendance and in that case, it is critical for employers to have policies and records.

Clear records are important in discrimination challenges and proof of compliance consistent with laws such as the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act . You must be able to support your decisions and backup your rationale with facts.

Managers; if your company offers pre-cations or vacation at-will programs, don't be caught to defend your attendance policies. Similar to tuition assistance payback, in case an employee exits soon after hire, make it part of your offer letter and policies that payback would be required. You would not want money wasted on funds that otherwise would be used for rewarding performance.

Jobs in the service industry are dependent upon employees being there to wait on/provide immediate services. Scheduling is critical. Also, medical practices, hospitals, educational institutions, airlines rely heavily on scheduling. Vaca' your way would provide challenges for employees to get their share of vacation when physical attendance on the job is critical.

Remember, when staff is paid; they are considered employees, not job candidates. That includes the pre-cation period. Many things could happen at that pre-cation that could affect your company. Make sure to start benefits when then complete probation OR at least when they physically work at the company.

What remains is a dog-eat-dog job world where there is competition for loyalty in the form of being at work and contributing to the bottom line. Again, nice work if you can get it. Atlassian claims success.