I think policies like this would cause more tension and worry than they relieve. Kind of like "pick your salary". Surely different people have different expectations? Do Europeans take 5 weeks a year and Americans take 2?
I've never been employed under a policy like this and I'm genuinely curious as to how well you think it's helping morale.
"I'd like to take a week off."
"Well you only have 4 days left, and we need at least one person in the office the day before Christmas, so I could turn this down..."
"But I'm only short by one day!"
(I end up delaying my Christmas vacation by 3 days as a result, and I resent my boss for it)
This doesn't happen at Knewton. If I need time off, and my work is done, I take it.
Hurricane Sandy is actually a perfect example. I've had no power since Monday night in Soho, and today is my first full day online. An unlimited vacation policy means I don't have to take a shorter Christmas break because an act of God swept through and pwnd my neighborhood.
While I have no problem with the general premise of that policy, I would rather have had an additional stipulation that all employees are required^ to take, say, 3 weeks of vacation annually (or, pick a number). That way, it was expected you would be out of the office for a portion of time.
^ I guess you can't force people to do that, but it would have made things so much less confusing or difficult to me if I could point to such a "rule."
[Edit: I realize some of this problem probably rested on the shoulders of management, but that wouldn't have solved all the issues of the policy.]
It stops you from worrying that you've eaten into your vacation time when you take a day here or there for appointments, long weekends, family events, child sickness, etc.
In fits with our general focus on productivity over seat time.
You don't want to look like your taking too much time off and be abusing the policy.
It is good although that sick days tend not to count for these limits.
It's also good for employees in that I don't have to haggle over PTO whenever I want to take a vacation.
Haggling with your employer over time off is terrible. It's a poor experience--I shouldn't lose 3 days off of Christmas vacation just because my butt wasn't in my chair an additional 8 hours during the previous 11.5 months.