The latest in corporate perks: Force employees to enjoy vacation by deleting their email

Nothing? Really?
Nothing? Really?
Image: Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee
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Imagine returning home from a two-week vacation to an inbox as clear and empty as an unspoiled beach. That’s no idle daydream, but the new policy of the German automaker Daimler. When employees go on vacation, they can turn on “Mail on Holiday,” which automatically deletes all incoming emails and notifies senders that their messages haven’t been received. Daimler tested the system last year and is now offering it as a perk to its 100,000 German employees.

The company’s move comes a week after the labor minister of Germany’s most populous state proposed banning work emails and phone calls outside of normal business hours. Deutsche Telekom, Volkswagen, and the country’s labor ministry already have rules in place preventing managers from contacting employers after work.

The goal of those initiatives and Daimler’s new policy is the same: to reduce stress on German workers, who already work, on average, 400 hours less annually than Americans. “With ‘Mail on Holiday’ they start back after the holidays with a clean desk,” Wilfried Porth, Daimler’s head of human resources, told the Financial Times. “There is no traffic jam in their inbox. That is an emotional relief.”