Unlimited Holiday - What's The Catch?

Peninsula Team

October 02 2014

Richard Branson recently made the news by announcing that he’ll be offering unlimited holiday to 170 members of his personal staff. This holiday won’t need to be preapproved and staff will potentially be free to up and leave whenever they like for as long as they like, provided it isn’t detrimental to their work. Branson took the initiative after his daughter informed him of a similar policy over at Netflix where it has apparently had an incredibly positive effect on creativity, morale and overall productivity. While the idea of completely unlimited time off, provided work still gets done, may seem like a dream, in reality it isn’t quite so simple. Those affected by Branson’s decision are his personal staff; people in extremely senior positions that already have the ability to work from home following his decision to ditch the nine to five working day. Branson’s approach praises productivity over time spent at work; an approach that may work perfectly with senior directors and managers but not, necessarily, with a wider workforce. One potential issue with this policy is the lack of necessary preapproval. For smaller, less global businesses, knowing when your workforce are going to be in or out can be a matter of sink or swim. Planning workload distribution can be difficult enough without being oblivious to your employees’ travel plans and it might make more sense to meet them halfway. A good middle ground could be to allow uncapped holiday with a heavy emphasis on communication and coordination with colleagues, along with productivity reviews to ensure work is still getting done. This could ensure employee loyalty and massively boost morale. Another alternative to the unlimited holiday policy could be Duvet Days. This is where an employer allows their employees to take a certain amount of days off work every year without having to give prior notice. Duvet Days are a great way to tackle problems with staff absence and false sick days and have even been used by some companies as incentives, meaning high performing employees can earn more time off as a reward for their good work. As the workplace evolves to meet the needs of the modern day professional, so should the policies acting in it. Holiday is something greatly valued by most employees and allowing more room for manoeuvre will only have a positive effect on their relationship with their company. Perhaps holiday policies are something that should be allowed to change with the times. Perhaps it would be a useful development to think of holiday less as a mandatory annual allowance, and more as a commodity that can be used to encourage progression.

Suggested Resources