Vertex's great benefit: A paid sabbatical
If there's ever a time of year where the idea of work-life balance comes into play, it's the holiday season.
If there's ever a time of year where the idea of work-life balance comes into play, it's the holiday season. At Vertex Inc., the tax software company in Berwyn, chief executive Jeff Westphal says he's serious about making sure work-life balance happens, both for himself and for Vertex Inc. employees. "I figure if we care about work-life balance and part of it is leadership by example, I better have it too," he told me during our Leadership Agenda interview published in Monday's Philadelphia Inquirer.
"So," he said, "I take eight weeks of vacation a year -- maybe more. My wife and I love to sail and I love to hike and I fish and I ski and I go do stuff with my kids. I always take at least one three-week vacation a year and I've had three sabbaticals in the last 20 years where I took two solid months."
On his sabbaticals, Westphal took his three children, who were home-schooled, to Europe for one trip. Another trip was a summer in Eagles Mere, Pa. and the third was to Australia, Fiji and Cambodia. Next, he says, will be a long sailing trip across the South Pacific.
Meanwhile, sabbaticals are available "so every employee at Vertex has an opportunity to take a month of supplemental paid time off. So, in conjuction with their earned vacation so they can take as much as seven or eight weeks, at least once in their career, typically at 15 years of seniority, which I hope to move up at some point," he said.
I asked him whether the sabbatical has to have a purpose.
"The purpose," Westphal said, "is get away from work and enjoy life. The only time most people get to do that is when they are changing jobs and that's a highly stressful time, or when they retire. The letters I get from people when they come back from their time off are priceless. And ,it hasn't hurt our productivity. It has helped our productivity. It hasn't hurt anything and people just really love it."