According to an internal memo that was sent to Valleywag, Yahoo will be closing operations the week between Christmas and New Years in order to reduce their vacation liability. Closing that week isn’t too unusual in the Valley – during Web 1.0, it was common practice. What seems to be different here is the forced use of vacation or unpaid time if the employee doesn’t have enough time accrued. From what I remember from my dot com days was that companies built that time in to the yearly vacation accruals or just paid the time outright. However, that was just my own experience, it may have been different elsewhere.
I’m not judging Yahoo, but requiring employees to reduce vacation time can make one wonder about the financial health of the company. On the other hand, there could be many other reasons why management made this decision. I’ve often been at the helm of unpopular decisions and know that it’s impossible (and unfair) to judge decisions from here. And as an HR professional, I’ll admit that I do have an issue with internal memos being leaked in this manner. (Although I guess I’m not really helping the cause by linking to it.)
I think the greater concern here is that employees felt that they had to leak this internal memo to Valleywag rather than taking it to management, even though the memo encourages employees to do so (“In addition, Yahoos for whom this change causes significant personal hardship are encouraged to speak with their managers regarding possible solutions.”). The question that needs to be asked is why. Did they feel that the above statement was half-hearted or perhaps rhetorical? Did employees go to their respective supervisors to discuss the issues, only to be rebuffed with a statement about the way things are? Again, it’s impossible to know.
I hope that Yahoo management takes a look at why this memo was leaked and opens up a dialogue with their employees as to why this decision was made.
And while they’re at it, a refresher course on company confidentiality wouldn’t be a bad idea.