For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also

Matthew 6:21

Your vacation days are sacred. They’re how you re-engage with what’s most important in your life. Your family. Your friends. Yourself.

Given how precious your time off is, how would you feel about taking less vacation so that one of your teammates could take more?

It’s a whole new level of servant leadership.

A handful of companies here in Alexandria, Minnesota have put this unusual servant leadership practice into action. They’ve established Vacation Sharing programs that enable employees to gift their vacation days to teammates who, through unforeseen circumstances, need additional time off. The results?

  • Deeper transparency.
  • Deeper relationships.
  • More vibrant servant cultures.

Vacation Sharing programs bring employees closer together. No doubt about it. But how, exactly?

People only give to causes they believe in.

Coerced giving isn’t sustainable. For people to offer ongoing support to a philanthropic initiative, they’ve got to believe in it.

In Alexandria, people are choosing to believe in their teammates.

Consider for a moment what you believe in, and why. You believe in things that you know about, right? Things you’ve invested your time and energy thinking and learning about. When you believe in a person, it’s because you’ve gotten to know them. You appreciate the value they bring.

Developing belief in your teammates takes time and intention. It doesn’t happen by accident. You’ve got to push beyond your daily routine and get to know your colleagues as people, not just as professionals. You’ve got to understand their lives, and the pressures they deal with on a daily basis.

Consider, does your company’s culture support the development of ‘this’ level of camaraderie? If it doesn’t, now is the time to begin. When your leaders put a Vacation Sharing program into place, they can set a standard and send a message:

In this company, we believe in the power of our team. Take time to understand the people you work with. Invest that energy. Connect with your teammates at a level that leads you to want to gift your unused vacation days freely, with confidence and joy to make a difference in people’s lives.

When people feel believed in, the game changes.

Can you imagine what being gifted with extra vacation days feels like, to the employees who suddenly find themselves in need? Instead of giving up, they are lifted up. They’re buoyed by the belief that whatever setback they’re experiencing, they can, with the help of their teammates, overcome it.

Maybe they’re exhausted from taking care of a sick relative, and just need a few extra days off to get their feet back under them. Or maybe the stress of raising a troubled teen has them at their wits’ end, and they need to spend time searching out support and solutions – time they’d never have if the Vacation Sharing program wasn’t in place.

Whatever the reason for people accessing the benefits of a Vacation Sharing program, the result is the same. When you know that you actually matter to the people you work with – not just professionally, but personally — the game changes.

You begin to trust that your teammates really do have your back. You look forward to the time you can pay the benefit you received forward. Relationships move from being transactional to proactively meaningful.

Service becomes reciprocal.

When people feel believed in, they feel seen. They feel as if they matter. And so, they act as if they matter. They behave as if they can make a real difference. They step up and serve others, because they have experienced first-hand the benefits of being served. When this dynamic is unleashed in your organization – when service becomes self-reinforcing and reciprocal — people’s lives are changed forever, for the better.

All from a handful of shared vacation days.

Leaders in thriving companies are experiencing this positive shift right now.

Are you ready to join them?


Therefore encourage one another and lift one another up, just as you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:11