Mark Douglas, the CEO of SteelHouse®, a marketing and advertising company doesn’t give his workers a choice when it comes to vacationing. They must go. They could either take one long vacation in the year, or they could opt to break it into shorter ones. Either way, they have to get some quality rest.

Many workers can’t bring themselves to take vacations. First of all, many companies don’t issue vacation bonuses, and vacations cost a lot of money. Secondly, if vacation bonuses are issued, many people are usually tempted to forgo vacation and funnel their money into something else. The cost of living is too high to blowing money way on vacations, they’ll usually say. When SteelHouse team members refuse to go on vacation and request for the cash instead, Douglas usually says, “I actually want you to go somewhere and enjoy yourself.”

You can’t let $2,000 go to waste

Speaking to Business Insider, Douglas said that when the company was launched in 2010, employees didn’t really fancy the idea of vacationing so much [1]. “If you have a caged lion that was born in captivity, and then you open the cage, they back up more into the cage. They don’t start running free. When we first started telling people they had unlimited vacation, they didn’t even know how to interpret that.”

By 2011, he decided to up the ante and make things easier for them. He gives every employee a $2,000 bonus every year that can only be spent on vacation trips. They can go wherever in the world they fancy, to relax and recuperate.

“It’s one thing to say ‘You have three weeks’ vacation,’ as most companies do,” he said. “It’s another thing to say ‘You have cash, and if you don’t go on vacation and spend this money, the money literally goes to waste.’ It’s another level of saying this is real.”

Trust is key

Douglas starts from the moment his employees are employed to inculcate the virtues of honesty and trust in them. The company gives them liberties that aren’t usually found in the corporate world, and in return, they can trust the company to come through when they start the vacation with their own funds.

If an employee purchases a plane ticket today, he’ll be reimbursed the following day. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to pay for a plane ticket up front. This could also be dependent on what part of the world they want to travel to. People in this situation are allowed to use the company’s credit card to pay for their airfare.

When they return, they’ll make a list of all their expenses and the company reimburses them from the $2,000 capital.

Douglas encourages other companies to hold tight onto their employees with this initiative. Not only will they be in for the long haul with the company, but they’ll be more efficient and productive, giving their jobs and duties the best performance and attention they can.

He also said that between 2013 and 2016, out of 250 employees, the company lost only three, who left due to the reasons not related to the job. “We have virtually zero turnovers,” he said.

People are happier when they are treated like executives in their workplaces. A good employer must have the best interest of his employees at heart. Vacations are not only necessary to rejuvenate the mind, body, and soul, but also to allow a person to discover a higher sense of passion and drive for increased productivity.


  1. A CEO who gives his employees $2,000 to go on vacation says people are more productive than ever. Chris Weller. Business Insider. September 26, 2016.
  2. Steel House. Official Website.
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