by Gavin 17/08/2016 CAREER LIFE BALANCE

Many of us will be familiar with the scene where there is a picture of an Island Paradise sat above an individual’s desk or hung on office wall. The traditional dream being that if we all work hard enough then maybe one day we may just make it to our own paradise. In the meantime though we have all to make do with our 4 weeks a year! However in an ever-evolving workplace how relevant are traditional attitudes towards paid time off??

One man who has certainly made it to his own Island paradise is Richard Branson. Whether it is working from Necker Island that has influenced this change is debatable but Branson has been one of the early adopters of an open-ended holiday policy. Richard Branson, Virgin Group founder recently commented, “If working nine to five no longer applies, then why should strict annual (vacation) policies?”

Hard to argue with that. In fact, the blog post in which Branson wrote those words was an update to his company on their new paid time off (PTO) policy: unlimited. And Virgin Group isn’t alone. Many companies throughout the U.S. and U.K. have hopped on this trend including SailThru, Bigcommerce, Netflix, Groupon, Glassdoor and Hubspot, Yet early reports  suggest that as little as 1 % of US & UK companies have adopted flexible annual leave practices.

It’s probably worth considering a few of the pros of an open-ended leave policy. It must be said that if you will treat your employers like adults. You are empowering them to manage their own time and ensure that the deliver as and when required. This type of company culture and attitude breeds trust, responsibility and transparency.

Furthermore it enables a much healthier work-life balance. As many juggle the multiple tasks of family, career and personal goals enable to prioritise what’s important at any given time. As we increasingly recognise the importance of holistic health as a healthier and happier employer your productivity and quality of work arguably increase.

Whilst there are obvious benefits to an employee’s empowerment and company culture, lets face it; open-ended holiday is also a great marketing tool. Who isn’t going to be attracted to an organisation that lets you decided how much annual leave you can have? This may well be the point of difference that could determine whether a candidate decides to join your organisation or another. Moreover higher performers generally come equip with the capacity to self manage and the principles aligned with open-ended policy. Therefore this strategy could actually help you attract the best people.

On the other hand it can be a policy that is difficult to implement fairly. The biggest stumbling point with unlimited vacation is ensuring that all employees are given equal opportunity to take their time off. That comes down to management. The obvious problem is that everyone can’t be out at the same time. Companies with these policies, then, need strong managers who can juggle a vacation schedule that is fair to all and effective for the business.

The policy isn’t feasible will all types of jobs. While it may work in a tech environment in the Silicon Valley where employees are capable of working remotely and across multiple regions. However how likely is it to succeed in a small construction business or across hospitality?

As we move forward it appears that every business will have to assess whether such a policy works for their workplace. We will keep you posted on whether The Acquire Group is going to embrace open-ended leave. In the meantime I will keep looking at the picture of Necker Island hung on my wall!