In recent times, the uber-attractive Unlimited Holiday Policy has been dominating the dialogue around employee attraction and retention. In a nutshell, the policy is pretty self-explanatory. It works as follows; a company allows their employees to take unlimited holidays as and when they want, rather than a set amount. Right now, the minimum holiday for a full-time worker in the UK is 28 days and, let’s be honest, we’ve all had moments when we’ve wished it was longer. But what effects can unlimited holiday have on the culture, atmosphere, and productivity of a business?
Recruiters and employers have been busy creating a lot of buzz around this latest benefit, but is it the right fit for you? Well, that’s where we come in, with a helpful look into the pros and cons. Here at MuddyWellies, we’re taking a deep dive into this phenomenon and shedding some light on the pitfalls and perks. We know how varied each business can be, so sit tight and we will guide you…
1. Will it allow for a better work life balance?
Unlimited holiday promises to allow people to take those much-needed breaks, improving productivity and wellbeing. We know that a good work life balance is essential for a happy workforce, and unlimited holiday really can help to improve this. It offers people the chance to spend more time with their children, relatives and friends, and to enjoy more quality time after a tumultuous few years of pandemic life. Even so, there are other ways to accommodate people’s personal lives without having to go the whole hog.
2. Will it make us stand out from the crowd as an employer?
Between 2017 and 2021, Indeed.com measured an enormous increase of 148% in job posts promising unlimited holidays. Although this seems like a huge increase, there’s no need to get too excited, because only 1% of total jobs actually offer it. It might look great on your job ad, but are you making it work for your business?
3. Unlimited holidays can lead to confusion. Why?
Because, often enough, your people need more structure. Many new starters, especially graduates, may enter a new corporate job and feel anxious to ask for time off. Or it could cause tension within departments, affecting the culture and morale of a once harmonious workspace. If one person is taking weeks off at a time leaving the rest of their team struggling to stay afloat, then the bonds that tied the team together may start to wear.
4. Have you got the right resource?
And by resources we don’t just mean money. If you have one specialist who decides to take a large block of holiday – can you spare them? Major corporations can afford the luxury of unlimited holidays, whereas smaller businesses and start-ups simply can’t. If you’re a smaller business looking to attract new employees, you might need to think twice before promising people something you can’t afford.
5. Are people going to take the biscuit?
It’s normal to have concerns that people might start taking liberties. Netflix CEO, Reed Hastings, points out an interesting parallel to unlimited holiday, that ‘not having a dress code does not mean everyone will come to work naked’. But, with all things considered; we understand that it’s still a risk you’ll need to consider. So, before jumping into unlimited holiday, it’s so important to establish a trusting relationship between your people and leadership teams.
6. Will taking ‘too much’ holiday lead to feeling guilty?
Forbes Magazine speaks of ‘vacation shaming’, and states that one in four experience negative feelings of guilt, disappointment and pressure from above when taking their holiday. If the time frame was no longer quantified, it is likely that ‘vacation shaming’ (or holiday shaming on this side of the pond) would become a much larger issue.
7. Can it really increase productivity and decrease stress?
Studies show that 33% of staff thought that unlimited holiday alleviates employee stress and burnout. This sounds pretty good, right? While unlimited holidays might be a bit of a stretch for some, we believe that every business can afford to invest in the essentials. Invest in ways to build that trust and offer the flexibility your people need to take the pressure off. Here at MuddyWellies, we champion employee culture as one of our key pillars – and we have some alternative methods to help with burnout.
Which leads us to…
8. Is there another way you can offer flexibility, without the Unlimited Holiday policy?
Absolutely. You don’t have to run your business into the ground promising unlimited holiday, when you can find benefits that are more appropriate for the way you work. That’s where we come in…
If you are trying to attract the right talent, remember this; whether holidays are uncapped or not, if you focus your efforts on making the environment so enjoyable, people will be excited to return either way. This is what draws great people in and keeps them satisfied in their roles. Endless holiday does not equal employee retention. And a clued-up leader knows that if the culture is toxic, people won’t stick around! Creating a happy, trusted team of staff is a far more sustainable way to attract and retain the very best. Check out our post on ‘People. The biggest tool in any business armoury’.
We believe that a combination of great brand and great people is the key to success. So, instead of making an unsustainable promise to free holidays, perhaps it’s time for businesses to commit to their culture.
As our Co-Founders, Vicky and Lee, always say:
“There are no great brands without great people.
No great people with without a great brand.”
If you are struggling to figure out how to take your brand from good to great and create that employee culture that attracts and retains – get in touch with us. Trust us, we know a thing or two about standing out.
The MuddyWellies team.