The companies offering ‘unlimited’ leave
MOST Aussie workers are forced to hoard their precious few weeks of annual leave each year - but some lucky employees are free to take all the time they need, no questions asked.
Companies are increasingly offering staff "unlimited" leave, in the belief it helps attract a higher calibre of staff and boosts morale.
The world's top jobs site Indeed is one of a growing number of companies to embrace the trend, following the likes of Netflix, Virgin Management and LinkedIn
Indeed's senior vice president of human resources Paul Wolfe launched the initiative around two years ago and said it was open to all employees once they reached an agreement with their manager.
"Our teams work very hard and we wanted to be able give them the flexibility to meet ambitions, dreams, travel, family commitments, whatever it might be - and, more importantly, that they should be able to do it without guilt," Mr Wolfe explained.
"We've noticed as a business that people slowly started to engage with it. We've seen increases year over year in the amount of leave people are taking, and that's what we wanted - that people are taking leave and coming back rested and refreshed.
"They're going to be performing at a higher level in the business and they're going to be emotionally and mentally nourished."
But while it seems like employees would jump at the chance to book extended holidays, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), sometimes the opposite is actually true.
SHRM noticed that staff who have access to unlimited leave tend to not take any more or less days than they otherwise would.
That reluctance has been attributed to workers fearing they might miss out on promotions or put colleagues offside if they are seen to be "pushing the boundaries" by taking a big chunk of time off.
But Indeed's Australian boss Chris McDonald, who typically takes up to 25 days off each year himself, said the company was combating that fear by leading from the top down.
He said one of the company's senior directors recently lead by example by taking three weeks off to do a motorcycle trip from Sydney to Phillip Island.
"I believe the ability to offer this to our people is a great thing and it's certainly something I'm very proud of and that our staff love," he said.
"I travel a lot for my job and it's tiring. There are times when I could use a day or two of off to recharge. I'm very happy and open with my boss to have that conversation and I know I can get leave approved quickly if that's the case.
"I think if the leadership team is not applying the policy and taking the leave, staff won't follow suit. We owe it to our colleagues, and we owe it to our families, to take the leave we need to feel rested and able to perform at our best. I believe it helps people achieve their potential because they're in a far better space to do it."
Mr McDonald said there was a clear difference between introducing a policy and having staff actually take advantage of it - but he said in 2017, Indeed staff took 24 per cent more annual leave than the previous year, which showed it was working.
"Everyone works hard and from our perspective, people should have the ability to take a trip or do something they've always wanted to do and take time off on short notice, provided it meets the needs of the business and is approved by a manager," Mr McDonald said.
"The policy is there for a reason and it should be guilt-free. We expect everyone in the business from the senior level to new hires to take advantage of it as it suits them."
Mr McDonald said a recent survey conducted by Indeed revealed Australian workers would rather trade higher wages for other benefits such as flexible working and greater annual leave.