Six Months On … Two Months Off

I am returning from a 7-day cruise with my family. It was a great vacation with plenty of time spent on beaches in the Caribbean sun. Being an extrovert, I talk to people easily and often. Being a blogger, writer and author, I am always looking for an idea that can become my next blog or article. And, it was in talking to the ship’s crew members over the course of my week away that this “back to work/reality blog posting” came to me to share with you.

What would you do if you could work for six-months straight without a day off so that you can then have two full months of vacation? Two, full months off. Sure some may say that is too much time to work without a break, but think about that for a minute. Work 12-hour days for six months, stop, take a two-month vacation, and then repeat cycle. Aren’t we already doing the former, without enjoying the benefits of the latter?

How many times have you worked a 60, or 70-hour work week? How many times have you then also worked “a little bit” on the weekend for another four to eight hours? Next thing you know, it is Sunday morning and you are wondering where the weekend went, and thinking about what you need to do at the office tomorrow. And face it, you are mentally if not still physically exhausted from last week. How does that two months off sound now?

The professionals on a cruise ship do have time off each day. They have 12 hours off whether at sea, or on shore which also includes their sleep time. All in all not too bad … the math works out to be the same as for most “landlubbers” or other folks. These hard-working men and women have their meals provided free, get free uniforms, have onboard healthcare, a heavy employer matched 401k, live at worst two people to a cabin, don’t have a morning commute, and visit a new island paradise about every other day. And while they wouldn’t talk specifics … they are paid very well. For my recruiting colleagues, this is one gig where the “total comp” conversation with a candidate probably goes really well.

Here is the best part to me. They work for six months on one ship, go home for two months, and then come back and work on another ship for six months. Talk about a change of scenery. A new ship, new teammates, new ports of call, and new opportunities to do the job they love in a different environment every six months. It was interesting how many of the employees I met last week onboard ship were “long-timers” of that particular cruise line.

Could it be that talent management has been solved on the high seas? It seems to me that the cruise industry long ago figured out how to keep their employees from being stuck in the middle. They have filled the middle … or the space that most of us find ourselves in today, with two months of vacation between each rotational assignment in what may be the most exciting employee retention program in the world.

It all makes me wonder … what would my life and career look like today if I had learned of this opportunity before I joined the Navy?

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