I don’t know if you’ve already seen it, but if you haven’t, there’s a great article on a new policy Richard Branson has initiated at Virgin – essentially the company is allowing new fathers a whopping twelve months of paternity leave, on full pay. I know, it sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?
To be fair, there are some limitations – length of service being one – and it isn’t a policy available to all Virgin staff, only those at Virgin Management.
But in addition to being fantastic PR for Sir Branson and the Virgin brand, it does also highlight something that is becoming more and more important to employees across the globe. That something is our work-life balance and the willingness of companies to participate in the precarious balancing act that for too long has been all about give from the employee and take from the employer.
In a Forbes article I came across, only 13% of employees globally are engaged. Thirteen percent – that is a shocking snapshot of employee unhappiness. And it’s not all entwined in how much we’re getting paid either.
Which brings us back to Branson and his new policy. It might be a great PR winning headline grabber and as difficult to implement as his ‘Unlimited Leave’ policy, but what he’s got absolutely right is the underlying fact that the happier the employee, the more likely they are to be engaged and committed to the firm.
And I say that from very recent experience in my own current contract. I’ve had a very poorly pooch to look after recently. This has meant a lot of unexpected and unplanned time off work. I’ve been worried about how my manager will see this, and today I had a quick chat with her. Luckily for me, the company I am working for has some great flexible working policies, as well as managers that absolutely buy into those policies. Which means I had an extremely reassuring chat with my manager, and now feel much less stressed about having to book time off (which I will have to do again next week). That relief and gratitude has translated into me wanting to find a way to give back to the manager and company. I am willing and happy to go the extra mile for a company that has shown such understanding in a stressful time for me. And I’m actually only a contractor. I have no long-term vested interest to consider. Imagine the buy-in from permanent staffers…
It’s a win-win situation. All that’s needed is some enlightened companies to show us the way.
So thank you Richard Branson, for shining a light, in audaciously inimitable fashion, for the rest of us to follow and add to. You’re awesome.