High growth companies have been discussing the topic of “unlimited holidays” for some time now in an effort to close their talent shortfalls. But does it work? Do employees end up taking less holidays than they need, or do they take advantage? Does it create an unfair workload balance in the office?
From my own research I understand that as exciting as “unlimited holidays” on a career page sounds, it actually doesn’t work. Making something special unlimited makes it less desirable, and often we see those in leadership and those who really pull their weight in an organisation, not taking much time off at all. The results are fatigue and burnouts and it kind of defeats the purpose of the whole idea.
Today I asked myself what actually is the real motivator for this policy in the first place? I believe there are two main drivers here:
1. Good intentions to care for our people
Yes, our generation knows it. Just caring for ourselves isn’t enough anymore, we need – and want – to care for those around us. Especially as a business owner, we carry the responsibility of welfare for our people.
Work has long been more than just a place to get your paycheque. It can be a place that makes or breaks you. As employers the health of our teams is crucial. Don’t we want to see them smiling at work? Doing their best? Feeling energised when they leave at the end of the day? In the end, it benefits both parties.
Times of rest and relaxation are part of this work journey, we all know it – and I am sure a lot of us have gone years without taking much of a break at all. We know the consequences can be severe.
Rest is a place where creativity sparks again, where the tank get filled so it can overflow to others in kindness and attention.
[Photo]: A memory from my last holiday in Tasmania, where I recharged in the wild
But are our good intentions for making this world a better place aligned with the value of “unlimited holidays”?
This pitch may not bring you the talent you want after all…
2. Attracting the best talent
If you’re a high growth business, you need the best people. You need the best mind set, cultural fit, experience and expertise.
But let’s face it, the local talent market is limited. Finding people to join your development team for example takes months and usually costs a lot more than what was initially budgeted.
So what do you do? You do anything to make your organisation as attractive as possible of course! Benefits, benefits, benefits. A part of this may well be the “unlimited holiday” perk.
In the US Startups and Scaleups offer up to 50 employment benefits.
50 benefits is an enormous overhead to manage!
Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing how serious we take employee wellbeing and what difference it makes in the individual’s life. But at what point is enough enough? When have we offered enough benefits to attract the right talent?
The hard truth is, it’s not a matter of benefits: There just isn’t enough talent supply in high tech cities such as New York, London and Singapore. Your benefits can keep crawling up – and so will your competitor’s – but you may still miss out on growing your team that aligns with your passion, values and work ethic at a pace that is fast enough to satisfy investors and stakeholders.
I am a big advocate of the possibilities a local + remote team hybrid model brings. At Houston that looks like us being the remote team partner to a high growth tech business.
How does that work practically? While our clients take their time putting that local team of ace talent together (people in key positions that they need to have in the office with them), Houston gets busy finding remote Eastern European software talent to compliment the local team and start work on the tech side ASAP.
The placement per role usually takes us 2-4 weeks and these individuals or teams work exclusively for you, are a committed part of your vision and help you drive product development forward at rapid speed – without compromising on culture and talent!
Please email on [email protected] if you want to discuss a proven and unique method of building scalable, aligned teams where you can stand at the front of the line and not have to compromise with an ever-growing list of perks that don’t build culture or value in the way you’d like.
I’d love to hear from you!