Have you ever sat at work during the summer months, wishing you were doing something else? Even if you love your job, a bit of extra time off never goes amiss, especially if it gives you the opportunity to do something you’re really passionate about.

Well, one employer has made dreams come for staff at his Minneapolis advertising agency by giving them 500 paid hours to spend the summer pursuing a passion. Even the freelancers were given 100 hours. Imagine being there when the employees heard that news. They must have been stunned. And then euphoric.

All 18 staff members were set free from their usual routine for four months, at a time when it wouldn’t harm business; the 500 hours coincide with the time that the company goes through a slight lull. So, for some, their time was spent videoing fun days out with the kids, while others volunteered, traveled, made music, painted or even invented things. And though chasing new business was put on the backburner, the office wasn’t closed completely, as staff members were still on hand to check in with existing clients.

Now, you’re probably reading this green with envy, and I can’t say I blame you. I’m going all Shrek myself right now. And the employees know how lucky they are with this one; one of them replied, when asked by a neighbor if she’d won the lottery, that she “sort of did. The time lottery”.

As employees, we’d bite our boss’ hand off for a perk like this, but if you’re a business owner, would you do something similar? Could you even afford to? It might seem a brave move to just give away thousands of free hours which could be spent making money for the business, at a time when business can be hard to come by anyway.
And if we’re being honest with ourselves, do we really deserve all this extra time off? I mean, we choose to work, and we get paid for it; that’s how it works isn’t it?

But then again, if there’s any nation of workers that could do with more time off, it’s us. The US is the only developed country where employers don’t have to give their staff any paid leave. Most get given around two weeks, compared to four or five in places like the UK, France and Australia. One in four of us gets no paid vacation at all.

If you’re a business owner, given those statistics, just think how an extra break will revitalise your team. And if 500 hours is a bit much, how about a week? They’ll love you for it, and it may just make them more productive when they get back to the office.