Across the globe, more and more top companies are adopting unlimited holiday policies, allowing employees to enjoy a more flexible approach to work; one which recognises the value of employee satisfaction and positive results in job performance. A Gallup poll shows that only 13 per cent of employees are 'engaged' at work, perhaps because most can't wait to leave the office.
Many workers complain that the long hours they put in mean that sometimes, it seems they 'don't have a life'. Companies such as Virgin have long woken up to the importance of free time, allowing staff as much holiday time as they wish (be it for a few hours a day, an entire week or a month), so long as they are confident that their work is up-to-date and that their absence does not disrupt the workflow of colleagues.
Some of the reasons why companies are waking up to the need for greater flexibility in terms of holidays include:
- Keeping up with the times: Ubiquitous connectivity means that staff actually tends to work for an incalculable amount of time, answering phone calls and emails, checking their work and continuing on unfinished projects at odd hours. Allowing staff greater flexibility and understanding their need for flexible holiday time is a company's way of showing its appreciation of the never-ending work day.
- It is practical: In the end, each and every employee has their own role to play. As long as they are fulfilling their duties with the right attitude and with commitment and passion, why should they be punished and not allowed their personal time with family and friends? Everyone needs to relax and recharge their batteries, especially in the summer time, when the weather is fantastic and spending long days indoors in the heat can seem like punishment.
- Holidays make people feel appreciated: Rewards don't always have to be about money; if your staff is more than achieving the goals they are set, you can only win by rewarding them to enable them to feed their soul through whatever they love the most - be it exercise, a hobby or time spent in a social setting. You hired your staff because they are good at what they do; why assume that they would abuse the right to reasonable free time?
- Fostering health: Being indoors and sitting on a desk is not just counter-productive; it is also harmful to employee health, with many people simply not getting the Vitamin D they need daily, or consuming the right foods. It's no surprise that many workers take a sandwich to work, eating quickly at their desk so as to leave work earlier. Ultimately, most people wish they had more personal time.
Sitting is the new standing; desk jobs are a leading risk for heart disease and once an only imagine the accumulated risks of sitting and working, day-in, day-out, without a pause. Holidays allow staff to take the time to make important health changes, including starting an exercise programme and adopting a more nutritious diet. A healthy life is incompatible with burnout owing to non-stop work schedules. Stress is a killer, not only in the physical sense but also in the psychological one, affecting work performance and commitment.