Unlimited vacation – the latest tool in the retention toolkit?

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Unlimited Vacation – sounds too good to be true. But is it the grand holiday we want it to be or the latest tool to help retain employees?

Kiki Stannard, Managing Director at ZEDRA discusses

It’s well known that employers are determined to keep their best and brightest employees, particularly those who work the hardest and contribute the most. With 24/7 connectivity nearly everywhere globally, finding time away from the demands of a stressful job are becoming more and more difficult. It is often a challenge for those in the highest demand to get a decent amount of time off to rest and recuperate properly – both physically and mentally – never more so than in the world of financial services.

It may have come as a surprise to many to read that internationally renowned investment bank, Goldman Sachs, announced that senior staff are being moved to a ‘flexible vacation’ policy which will permit time off when needed and not adhering to fixed maximum days per annum.

Having been hailed as progressive for the industry and designed to encourage a decent amount of time off to support health and wellbeing (there will be a minimum level of time off for junior staff which aligns with the statutory requirement in any event), will there really be any change in culture or attitude at Goldman Sachs which often viewed as fiercely competitive?

In the US, the tech sector has actually been offering unlimited vacation for many years which might sound like a significant benefit where vacation is around ten days plus public holidays. The reality however can be quite different.

  • The unlimited vacation is only on the basis that the employee’s work is done, or the break will not disrupt the business, often leading to employees logging on regularly whilst they are away
  • Confusion can arise around the use of the policy and different interpretations as to exactly what amount is acceptable as ‘unlimited’ according to who your line manager happens to be
  • There can be an inclination to cancel a day’s leave when something urgent comes up at work
  • Blurring of the lines can be seen where there is a performance issue requiring careful management or additional employee support
  • Does unlimited vacation just mask real sick days?
  • Does unlimited vacation result in a duvet day for anyone who is just not that motivated?
  • How can you shake that Monday morning feeling when you know that not turning up today is ok?

Unlimited holidays can work for some businesses and sectors, but this type of policy won’t work for every company. In today’s environment it might act as a great benefit to entice new, often younger, starters to join a company. It’s always important to engage with staff and key stakeholders to get a better idea of the appetite for such a policy before committing and if there is desire, prepare thoroughly to avoid any negative ramifications to individual staff and company morale.

 

About ZEDRA

ZEDRA is a global provider of Corporate Services & Global Expansion, Active Wealth and Fund Solutions. The firm’s highly experienced teams deliver tailored high quality solutions to clients who include high net worth individuals and their families seeking diversified active wealth solutions, as well as, medium to large sized companies, corporate pension schemes, asset managers and their investors..

ZEDRA’s full range of services are designed to preserve and protect the real value of its clients’ assets and the firm’s entrepreneurial outlook helps and supports clients in unlocking their ambitions for growth and expansion, no matter how complex their challenges might be.

ZEDRA inherited a wealth of knowledge and experience following its acquisition of trust businesses of a renowned bank in 2016. This solid foundation combined with innovative thinking has allowed ZEDRA to grow rapidly in a competitive marketplace to a team of 700+ industry experts across 16 countries spanning Asia, Oceania, the Americas and Europe.

ZEDRA recently reached an agreement to receive a strategic minority investment* from British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (“BCI”), one of Canada’s largest institutional investors, investing in trustworthy businesses for a long-term horizon. www.zedra.com

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    Marja Toseland

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