Why Our People Can Take Unlimited Holidays
A few months before writing, Richard Branson announced Virgin's head office would trial a new form of staff holiday entitlement inspired by Netflix. I read with great excitement that they would allow their team to take as much holiday as they liked - on full pay.
I loved this! It resonated with me immediately.
I've always had a natural tendency to avoid the norm, and to challenge accepted wisdom, but it hit me like a train that for 25 years I've been asking employees to book holiday, from a fixed number of days each year, with certain required notice periods, and sign-off procedures without ever questioning whether that makes any sense.
It doesn't. Maybe that's not the case in all businesses, but for us it doesn't make any sense at all.
We have a culture of family, passion and shared mission. Our people truly care about each other. Everyone passionately wants the business to be successful, but just as importantly they want their colleagues to be successful too. It's pretty special.
We don't have to have rules in place to ask people to work extra hours when needed. We don't ask or require people to keep on top of their emails when they're on holiday, or even tucked up in bed with the flu! But they still do - ignoring my complaints that they should take some rest!
When you think about, it's ludicrous to ask people like that to book holidays and limit them to a set number of days each year.
So this month we announced:
All staff are entitled to take any amount of holiday they like each year, on full pay, without notice or any kind of approval, so long as it doesn't unreasonably affect the business, or the rest of the team.
Who is to be thanked for this?
Initiatives like this aren't made possible by companies, lawyers or business owners. They're made possible by the character and attitudes of the people within the team. I can't say it would work in all businesses, or even that it would have always worked in ours, but if the culture of a business is right, and the people employed within it are super star, real, talented people, rather than corporate drones or self-servers, contrary to the perception that this kind of policy is a big risk, really there is absolutely no risk at all.
So where as our team have thanked me for putting this in place, that is entirely missing the point. Putting it in place is easy. The thanks rightly go from me to every member of my extraordinary team for their diligence, dedication and care for me, our business and for each other. That's what makes things like this possible.
Now get back to work! You're not on holiday, you know!