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A cocktail drink sat on a tropical beach The way we do business is changing. Cloud computing and video conferencing are just two examples of how technology advancements have resulted in a new way of working where personnel have much more flexibility about where and when they do their jobs. However, while our approach to work is evolving, it is questionable whether or not our stance to taking holidays needs to keep up. One option some firms are now considering to go hand-in-hand with the ultra-connected modern organisation is to offer an ‘unlimited’ annual leave policy, where days off are no longer measured. Sound unfeasible? Take a look at some of the finer details before writing it off completely. How does it work? With a change in working patterns, the question should be asked by businesses whether the conventional approach to holiday leave also needs to be updated. This way, the consequences are clear if their work suffers as a result of taking too many days off – but the responsibility ultimately lies with employees. However, this approach certainly isn’t for everyone. The culture needs to be right for staff not to take advantage of such a policy, while there also needs to be a high level of trust already in place between the employer and its personnel. On the flip side, businesses can’t use this method as a way of putting pressure on staff to take fewer holidays – there’s plenty for HR departments to think about here. What are the benefits? In theory, this approach can make workers more engaged and motivated – as they feel more connected and loyal to a company that obviously trusts them enough to make their own decisions on when and how much holiday can be taken. Similarly, it’s a great incentive to boast about when trying to attract the top talent. While this trend is still in its infancy, it’s quite probable that any organisation offering this would be in the minority, thereby giving it an edge over similar competitors attempting to recruit from the same pool. Which companies offer unlimited holidays? Perhaps the most famous example – and one of the pioneers – of this approach is the media-streaming organisation Netflix. It was apparently introduced at the US firm after employees told bosses they felt as though the way they took their holidays at the time (the conventional method) didn’t match up with how they did their jobs – ie checking their emails just before bed and solving work issues online after finishing their supper. In response, Netflix turned its annual leave policy on its head, explaining in its “Reference Guide on our Freedom & Responsibility Culture” that the focus should be on what people get done, instead of how many hours they turn up for. This approach was also recently adopted by another global brand, Virgin, with founder Sir Richard Branson stating: “Flexible working has revolutionised how, where and when we all do our jobs. So, if working nine-to-five no longer applies, then why should strict annual leave policies.” It’s an interesting debate and one that could rumble on for some time as the way we work and live continues to change. Would your business benefit from this approach and how can HR go about implementing it? Topics like these are what can really bring some of our courses to life – check out the training programmes we have available and book your place today.

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