Why Netflix’s CEO Wants Workers to Take a Lot of Vacation Time

November 3, 2015, 9:51 PM UTC
The New York Times 2015 DealBook Conference
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 03: Co-founder and CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings participates in a panel discussion at the New York Times 2015 DealBook Conference at the Whitney Museum of American Art on November 3, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for New York Times)
Photograph by Neilson Barnard — Getty Images

In an interview at Tuesday’s DealBook conference, Netflix (NFLX) CEO Reed Hastings said he hopes his employees take a lot of vacation time.

He made the comment after the interviewer asked Hastings about the company’s recent implementation of unlimited parental leave. It wasn’t a difficult decision for Hastings to make, he said, since the company had already offered unlimited vacation time for over a decade.

The streaming service CEO communicated multiple reasons for the policy, the first being that he believes it promotes fresh ideas—a necessity for an innovative company such as Netflix. Hastings, who himself takes off six weeks per year, said: “It is helpful. You often do you best thinking when you’re off hiking in some mountain or something. You get a different perspective on things.”

Hastings said he wants to build an allegiance between Netflix and its employees. If a company really cares about its workers, hopefully workers will really care about their company. He rejects the notion of work-life balance and believes people should be more focused on work-life integration, he said: “What we’re trying to do is earn loyalty and trust that they’ll really care about Netflix in addition to caring about their families, and they’ll find successful ways to integrate it.”

His third reason: flexibility is key. Stressing efficiency over flexibility can lead to employees feeling neurotic and overworked, which can backfire. Hastings said that he’s willing to sacrifice efficiency for more flexibility because the latter will prove to be more valuable to the company in the long term.