The Workplace - September 2018

The Workplace - Guy HaywardIn a world where we are under continual pressure to provide an engaging working environment for staff, benefits have become a central component. Holiday is a benefit – well, at least I think it is – although so easily overlooked. Make it 25 days a year plus one extra for every year’s service and job done. We should all be showing greater innovation than that.

Imagine a scenario where you MUST take off 25 days a year. A true commitment to the wellness of the employee and a pledge that is saying we want you energised with a zest for life and we’re protecting you from burnout and fatigue. I love this idea and it’s exactly what technology company Travis CI has done (I might even do the same).

I’ve often wondered about unlimited holiday schemes. Made famous by Netflix and quickly adopted by Richard Branson and his Virgin empire, unlimited holiday allowances have been implemented by an increasing number of UK firms. On the surface they sound great, but you often hear that it never really is unlimited… people often take less.

“When people are uncertain about how many days it’s okay to take off, you’ll see curious things happen. People will hesitate to take a vacation as they don’t want to seem like that person who’s taking the most vacation days,” says Mathias Meyer, CEO of Travis.

Either approach – unlimited or an insistence that you must take your holiday – are better than the broken approach of days given. If you choose the unlimited route, people can feel guilty for taking time off. They feel it shows their boss and colleagues they are not committed. But we need our time away from the office; the modern workplace demands it.

What else can we do? I like the approach taken by technology solutions company Leidos Europe. Normally reserved for five or 10 years’ service, sabbaticals can be taken there after three. Meanwhile, travel aggregator Skyscanner’s CEO believes that the inspiration for technology lies in China. So any employees that book a holiday in China are reimbursed to the tune of £750. The hope is that his people will return home with product ideas.

He also allows his people to spend up to 30 days every two years working in any one of their international offices. That’s giving them experience.

What do we do at Goodman Masson? You can buy and sell holiday; we subsidise ski trips by 40%; and each year we send a group on an annual challenge overseas for 10 days (canoeing the Zambezi and trekking across Madagascar to name a couple). Then there’s our exotic holiday fund; we pay for our people’s holidays upfront with the cost deducted from salary over the course of the year. It makes holidays affordable and possible!

You’ll also have some ideas. Whatever you choose, be bold, different and creative. Your people will love it.

Guy Hayward –redefining the modern workplace CEO, Goodman Masson

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