Earlier this week, I read an article in Stylist magazine about independent media agency the7stars.
In it, the agency’s co-founder Jenny Biggam explained why the organisation has done away with a number of typical workplace conventions in order to give its staff greater freedom. This includes doing away with job titles and enabling staff to contribute their skills in order to shape the company; flexible-working hours and unlimited paid holiday, among many other interesting ideas.
I have to admit that I love its ethos of giving staff as much freedom, and therefore placing as much trust in them, as possible. To me, that is one of the ultimate ways of empowering and engaging staff.
But, it is the idea of unlimited paid holiday that has really got me thinking.
The7stars is, by no means, the only employer to offer this. Virgin Group, Netflix and accountancy firm PFK Cooper Parry are just a few organisations to do the same.
Unlimited paid holiday, combined with initiatives such as unlimited flexible working, was also part of the strategy which won web development firm Visualsoft the award for Best healthcare and wellbeing benefits – small employer at the Employee Benefits Awards 2015 earlier this month.
But while the idea will undoubtedly appeal to employees, many employers’ immediate reaction to it would naturally be to assume that many employees would spend more time out of the workplace than in it. But would this really be the case? After all, how many of us already struggle to find the time to take our allocated holiday allowance around work commitments, deadlines, covering for colleagues etc?
If employees are this committed now, would their attitudes really change if their employer handed them more flexibility and demonstrated greater trust in them?
If anything, I would expect that to result in higher levels of engagement, rather than lower.
I appreciate that there will always be some individuals who may initially try to take advantage, but I would hope that these would be in the minority and employers would have guidelines in place about how to deal with such situations should they arise.
Now, who do I need to speak to about some extra time off?