Richard Branson and his Unlimited Holiday Policy

Sir Richard BransonIt was in all the newspapers this week – Sir Richard Branson has announced that the 170 people on his private staff in the UK & US can take as much holiday leave as they want and for as long as they want.

It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?  And yet, aren’t we all secretly tempted to check whether there are any vacancies we can apply for and get in on some of that action?

He’s picked the idea up from Netflix, who already have this ‘non-policy’ in place and says it will increase productivity.

It’s a big bold move and has of course brought out all the naysayers who think the whole thing is nuts.  After all, they say, employees will either take advantage and be away for months or be too scared to take any extra time.  You can’t trust people.

I kind of disagree.

First of all, I think it’s a genius idea.  Hats off to Netflix and to Sir Branson.

We already live in an age where employees are routinely working over and above their 9-5 Monday to Friday hours.  We are expected to be online or at the end of a phone at any time of day or night within reason (and sometimes very much outside of reason!).  If employers expect us to be so flexible with time that we shouldn’t be in the office, it seems fair that some enlightened employers are now trying to balance that by being flexible about the times we should be in the office too.  Why should working hours be so advanced and holiday hours so rigidly draconian.

If employers have recruited wisely in the first place, firms will have conscientious employees who are more than happy to trade their time flexibly.  Of course, the caveat for taking the time off is that all your work has to be up to date and your time off won’t detrimentally affect the firm.  I know plenty of people who already work diligently all the time, and that’s with minimum holiday leave.  So it seems only fair, and pretty cool that having worked your nuts off over month-end for example, you might take a couple of days away when things are quiet.

It gives employees much-needed rest and recuperation time away from the office, and it gives employers motivated conscientious staff that they can rely on when things get hectic.  And yes, I agree with Mr Branson that it would lead to increased productivity and also to better employee retention.

Although it obviously won’t work for every company everywhere, I really hope those employers that can accommodate it, do.  Happy holidays!


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