Unlimited Leave Policy: Land of the Free, Home of the Idler?

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Talenox blog unlimited leave policy

Some say an unlimited leave policy draws a fine line between flexibility in the office and inefficiency in work attitudes.

Companies like Netflix have famously professed their love for such a policy, saying that generous leave benefits could attract talent, and would lead to healthier and more creative employees.

And yet, many businesses have been hesitant to offer unlimited vacation time, due to worries of productivity decreasing, or employees abusing the system.

Talenox has always run on an unlimited leave policy, and while that has worked out well for us, we get that it might not be viable for every company out there. Here are a few things to consider before implementing such a policy:

Who makes up your company?

If you could describe your colleagues as

  • disciplined,
  • responsible, and
  • self-motivated,

an unlimited leave policy could be a great idea.  Know that this arrangement works on honesty and maturity from all sides. Hire people you trust will work independently and efficiently. In turn, build on that trust by being the boss that knows how important time away from work is. Resist the urge to micromanage — tracking time-off would just result in more work for you and less time to do what really matters.

If you worry this policy might be abused, or about colleagues missing deadlines, there’s the option of introducing it in phases. This way, employees can adjust to the new way things are being run, as well as for management to monitor and remodel the leave policy to best fit the company culture.

Work done vs. hours clocked

Another point to consider is if fixed work hours are really necessary for your business. With the world so digitally connected, and with apps like Slack and Basecamp, no one really needs to sit in an office from 9 to 6 anymore. It could be the coffee shop next door, in bed, in Barcelona – anywhere really! Talenox elf Sebastian can regularly be found working here.

Imagine having done the day’s work before the clock strikes 6. The rest of the time doing nothing would be pretty wasteful. Moreover, the company would be paying its employee for time wasted in the office. With such a traditional arrangement, inefficiencies and unhealthy “fats” start to accumulate in the company’s cogs.

So, emphasise efficiency over the number of hours clocked. Some of us are more efficient in the morning, some of us in the afternoon or even late at night.  If everyone is productive during different hours of the day, why should there be a fixed set of working hours?  Having an unlimited leave policy would tell employees that you know not everything takes hours to complete, and that personal time is important too.

So, unlimited leave policy: yay or nay?

Offering unlimited leave is a relatively new concept to most businesses, and it’s definitely not for all types. But if your company doesn’t require rigid operational hours, why not review and remodel your leave policy to make it more time-efficient for everyone?

Sure, adjusting to this new way of working will take a while, but it’s definitely worth the time and effort, for the result would be happier, more productive employees who treat their work with respect and earnestness. Take it from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings himself, who said that more time off would “promote fresh ideas”, and help one gain a different perspective on things.”

Has your company tried out an unlimited leave policy? How was it worked out for you? Let us know in the comments section!

Editor’s note:
I understand the article made no distinction between being on leave and working remotely. I feel the two are word cousins in a word association game — it would be difficult to talk about unlimited leave policy without bringing up the idea of working on one’s own terms. However, to clarify, unlimited leave is a benefit entitling an employee to time-off to do whatever she or he wants, not a means to dictate how someone works.

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