When you Google ‘unlimited holiday policy’, you’ll lose all your courage to ever install a similar holiday policy. The number of negative reviews are… staggering, to say the least.
As a result, when we first voted to adopt an unlimited vacation policy: it came as no surprise that our colleagues were sceptical…
After some convincing, the team ultimately decided to ignore all red flags. We thought to ourselves: “If it works for Netflix, why couldn’t it work for us too?”.
So here we are, one year later, writing this blog to tell you what we’ve learned.
(Spoiler alert: we’re not getting rid of it just yet)
As many paid holidays as you want… why?
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been with us. Colleagues at BossData get as many paid holidays as they want, whenever they want.
No questions asked.
We didn’t just install it as ‘a catch’ to hire people: there’s more to it than meets the eye.
Primarily, we wanted to promote the idea of quality over quantity. As an employer, it made sense to value our employee’s overall contribution more than their presence in the workplace. Because at the end of the day it’s the quality of work that defines a company’s success, not the hours they put in.
“Today, in the information age, what matters is what you achieve, not how many hours you clock. I have never paid attention to how many hours people are working. When it comes to how we judge performance at Netflix, hard work is irrelevant…. So, why should I care if an employee works 50 weeks a year or 48 weeks a year?” – Reed Hastings, CEO Netflix.
In essence, to us, ‘unlimited’ really means ‘we’re not checking’. We aspire to achieve peace of mind with this mindset: no more figuring out how many days you have left.
So when you’re doing great work, but you feel like visiting your grandma by the coast? Go for it! Just make sure it fits your calendar: don’t make your client reschedule a meeting because of your grandma.
Alright. Now you’re up to speed with why we installed our policy, let’s look at how to deal with it as a company.
Because let’s be honest. It wasn’t always a walk in the park.
Our new mindset to make unlimited holidays work
Unlimited holidays is a high risk / high reward policy. Quite a few aspects can turn out problematic if you don’t handle them right as a company.
The most crucial aspect to make unlimited holidays succeed? A two-way sense of trust between employees and the employer. This sure sounds cheesy, and we’re in no way claiming it’s easy to achieve this… but it’s the main reason for this system to fail.
If there is no trust, an increase in anxiety, unfairness across colleagues, and decreased productivity can occur.
Trust has to be present across the entire company. You can’t just install an unlimited holiday policy when you have an otherwise strict company culture.
For example, at BossData, employees don’t need to clock their hours and can choose if they work from home or the office. Unlimited holidays are part of a bigger ‘ecosystem of trust & ownership’.
Output over attendance
For us, we embodied this two-way trust in a different way of evaluating our employees.
We started living by a simple credo that goes like this: “Output is ten times as important as someone’s attendance”. At BossData, it’s not the colleague who stays at the office the longest that receives the ‘employee of the month’ badge.
The risk here is that some people won’t take a lot of days off because they think they’ll achieve more output this way. We especially noticed this with new, ambitious employees. Unfortunately, this mindset doesn’t work in the long run.
A few days off makes you work ten times as efficiently once you’re back. So we make sure to stress this enough and let experienced employees set the right example.
“Time off provides mental bandwidth that allows you to think creatively and see your work in a different light. If you are working all the time, you don’t have the perspective to see your problem with fresh eyes.” – Reed Hastings, CEO Netflix.
So, to sum things up, we saw two big factors that made our unlimited holidays policy a success: a two-way trust and valuing output over attendance. But, how did our employees experience it?