Business Management

Duncan Fisken (Europe) - Take as Much Holiday as you Want

What would you say to a job where the employer offers you a good salary, pension contributions, private healthcare and a car allowance? Is there anything else you want? Well, what if your future employer allowed you to take as much holiday as you wanted? Is that your ideal job?

A time limited vacation policy, particularly one with a ‘use it or lose it' clause tacked on at the year's end, may be the norm in business today. But a small yet increasing number of US organisations see it as an out-dated policy and irrelevant to a skilled and motivated workforce.

There are few successful individuals who work as little as a 40 hour week (though cynics may argue there are a fair few people that don't work a 40 hour week, whether they are successful or not!) The reality is that in a skills and knowledge-based economy, the idea of ‘time-share' employment - 8 hours a day, an hour for lunch and 4 weeks' vacation a year, is an anachronism. Look around you on the train into work; many people will be working on their laptops. Look at the break areas by the coffee machine; in today's mobile world, employees are meeting and working while on break. And when was the last time you went on holiday and didn't do some work?

Time-share has given way to ‘mind-share'; it gives employees the tools they want - the iPad, the smartphone, the super-light laptop, a simple way of connecting back to the office - and they will work when they are away from the confines of the desk or cubicle, making your company more productive and responsive.

Times have changed. With the virtual work environment afforded by modern technology, and empowerment of the mobile workforce, most work gets done away from the desk. Given this work environment, is it possible for workers to truly switch off during their allotted holiday period and recharge their batteries?

We must remember that in today's connected world, allocating time for holiday is not the same as enabling piece of mind - in other words, we must not demand the employee's time or attention while they are away. This, of course, comes down to corporate culture and the practice of good personnel-management.

The end of time limited vacation policy could present an opportunity for incompetent or unreasonable managers to take advantage of their employees, and some will make the argument that for this reason, fixed holiday entitlement must remain. But the reality is that an unreasonable manager will be unreasonable about more things than just vacation, and it's more important that the company addresses the issue of a poor or unreasonable manager, than trying to keep it hidden with a time-share mentality of 40 hours a week, an hour for lunch, and 4 weeks paid vacation.

The best run organisations are already leveraging employee mind-share, so why limit their vacation? If workers are enabled to achieve their goals in a timely manner (working in their ‘own' time), why be inflexible about holiday entitlement? This summer, many professionals will almost certainly give up some of their limited vacation time to attend to work while their family relax on the beach. In the knowledge that their workers not only can, - but do - work whenever necessary, an increasing number of companies are embracing the virtual work environment and abandoning the work house ethic of limiting the amount of holiday an employee can take.

By Duncan Fisken, vp of EMEA operations, Aruba Networks



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