Did the parents leave yet?

So Richard Branson’s experimenting with Netflix’s ‘no holiday policy’ approach.

I love that he’s trying something different to see if it gets different results.

I wonder what different approaches people will take when putting it into practice –

1. Work constantly with no holiday (or just the statutory minimum) to avoid things falling apart, or to get that promotion, or both.


2. Develop strong teams (virtual or direct reports) so they can step away and the world won’t fall apart.

As much as I think this move away from a parent-child to adult-adult culture is great, I believe the parent will still be in the room……just further away from the holiday-booking activity. Because fundamentally the business will reward the behaviours it wants to see (think of parents with sticker charts for their kids).

So if people who work flat out and don’t take holiday get ‘rewarded’ with promotion for all their ‘hard work’ – guess what, you’ll get more people not taking holiday – and burning out.

If people get rewarded for leading, collaborating and delivering with, and through, others enabling them to have holiday without things falling apart then that’s what people will aspire to do.

So the parent’s still in the room – I don’t think you can ever completely get away from that – but at least they’re loosening the apron strings. Now, I wonder what behaviour-management approach they’ll use.

I believe in people being the key to success in a business and that success is unlocked by great bosses. I’m an Executive Coach for SME businesses to help create success for them, for their team, for their business.

Get in touch if you want this for your business – helen.amery@wildfigsolutions.co.uk
or take a look at my website to find out more http://www.wildfigsolutions.co.uk


6 thoughts on “Did the parents leave yet?

  1. Thanks for sharing your views on this approach to holidays.

    I don’t think that this approach would stop people from taking holidays, nor do I think it would lead to burnout. As I understand it, this approach empowers employees to have more control over their time. One of the greatest contributing factors is that employees are often working long hours and not getting rewarded for them.

    Today, technology has enabled employees to work from anywhere. Most organisations drive their employees to get results within certain timeframes. It is very hard to track their time and therefore track their leave entitlement.

    I look at my career and I can attest to earning a good income while also having to work 80+ hours a week to keep up. At no time did any employer double my leave entitlement or pay me extra for this effort. When you consider my total effort, my hourly rate may not have been particularly attractive.

    On the other hand, as a manager I have always monitored the hours that my staff have been putting in. It’s my view that as a responsible manager I need to ensure that my team is resourced with all that they need to ensure that they are working no more than 40 hours per week. To do this, I typically plan their work based on 32 hours, leaving 8 hours for incidental work that cannot be planned for.

    Where employment contracts often contain a clause around remuneration for salary staff, also covering overtime, I typically think that 10% overtime should be the maximum expectation.

    I hope this makes sense.

    • Hi Vaughan, thanks for commenting, it definitely makes sense. I absolutely agree that this should be a great way to recognise the fact that people can, and do, work anywhere anytime. But I also believe it has the potential for employees to fear taking time off for the impact it could have on their reputation / career – whether they feel that fear or not depends on what behaviour managers reward. Unwittingly, even good managers can reward behaviour that’s unhelpful to the culture they want to create.

      • With anything you try to do within an organisation, culture is key. I often find myself saying “Culture eats strategy for lunch!”

        It’s highly likely that Virgin already has a culture that can support this model.

        If I was to offer this model, I would get the employees to work out the terms and conditions or policies. This would then give them accountability and also buy-in. It could also be a good idea to provide this as an option for the employees, allowing them to choose between a couple of leave entitlement schemes. They could have the option to review it once every year or two.

  2. Great post Helen, thanks for sharing. I think the bottom line is that introducing this policy into just any company could be tricky. If you have the right culture already and you’ve hired the right people (hard working individuals committed to their team members and the organisation), then it’s the natural thing to do. If it means people take even less holiday, then it’s a bigger cultural issue than a holiday policy!

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