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Take more vacation!

(MoneyWatch) Take more vacation!

Americans are famous the world over for the paltry amount of time they get from work and the even smaller amount they take. What, Europeans wonder, is the point of all that money if you never have time to enjoy it?

But a handful of American and European companies alike are starting to converge on a whole different way of thinking about the issue. Instead of debating the merits of two weeks versus four weeks of paid time off, these companies are throwing caution to the winds and offering employees as much vacation as they want.

Sound good?

When productivity software company Evernote introduced the policy, at first it resulted in employees taking less time off than before -- until CEO Phil Libin had to insist that his workforce take at least one week's vacation. He even offered $1,000 to those who dreamed up a way of spending the time that expanded their mind.

And that, of course, is the point. Vacations are not just an absence of work. At their best, these periods of rest and recreation are an opportunity to try something new, go somewhere different, even just read a new book cover-to-cover without interruption. It's a time to breathe, let your mind wander and remember all those talents, energies and gifts you had -- and still have -- but are usually to busy to use.

Netflix has a similar all-you-can-take vacation policy, as does U.K. concert and band tracking company Songkick  and Inbucon, a company that designs pay and remuneration systems. These aren't stupid, non-commercial enterprises. They are businesses that fully appreciate that what they want in their workforce is energy, enthusiasm and creativity. You don't get -- and keep -- those qualities without employees having a chance to recharge, refresh and reimagine.

For companies with less enlightened management, this is just another reason to feel sore. But it should be a reminder to anyone to at least take the vacation they're owed. Life is long and careers are likely to be many -- but only if you have fresh ideas, insights and energy to bring to work.

So get up and go!

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