Could these employee benefits signal the beginning of a workplace revolution?

shutterstock_199089575Traditionalists beware. A number of leaders in employee engagement are rewriting the rule book. And if the latest innovations catch on, work-life balance as we know it could become almost unrecognisable.

Flexible working hours – we’ve heard it all before.

Or have we?

All Roles Flex. These three simple words have started to appear in the HR Manuals of innovative businesses competing hard for top talent. And their impact could be positively life-changing.

Imagine being empowered to dictate your own work hours. To design your work week around your personal commitments. To schedule your time so it delivers your desired work-life balance. And all without having to grovel to your manager, or jeopardise future career opportunities.

Well if you ask employees of Telstra, the Australian Stock Exchange or ANZ Bank, they’ll tell you it’s not a pipedream, it’s their reality. That’s because these businesses operate on an All Roles Flex basis, where flexible working conditions are the default, not the exception. And with research from Hudson revealing work-life balance is the number one priority for job-seekers in 2015, perhaps it isn’t such a crazy idea after all.

Trust and Empowerment – the annual leave policy of the future?

Here’s what really would be a crazy though.

Dusting-off your long-held, stringently monitored annual leave policy and throwing it out the window. Granting employees the freedom to take as much leave as they want, when they want, without asking them to track it.

Now that would be crazy. Wouldn’t it..?

Not everyone would agree. In fact, Netflix in the US and Virgin’s parent company in the UK and US have taken their leave policies to the shredder. And they’re not being replaced.

Richard Branson explains annual leave, Virgin style; “…the policy-that-isn’t permits all salaried staff to take off whenever they want for as long as they want” he says. “…the assumption being that they are only going to do it when they feel a hundred percent comfortable…[that] their absence will not in any way damage the business – or, for that matter, their careers!”

Similarly, Netflix rationalises their ‘freedom and responsibility’ culture as being aligned to their recruitment of ‘fully formed adults’. So essentially, these businesses have replaced traditional workplace protocols with good old fashioned trust. Looking at it that way, maybe it’s not so crazy.

But examples of businesses challenging the status quo don’t end there.

Trail-blazing businesses cater to the baby-balance.

It’s no secret that bleary-eyed parents of new babies have long struggled with more than juggling their precious bundle(s), sleep deprivation and cold cups of tea. Taking time off to welcome bubs into the world can also be accompanied by the angst of a significantly reduced household income and limited, inflexible leave.

Again, Netflix in the US has dared to remove the red tape. Their latest headline-grabbing announcement was the introduction of fully paid, unlimited parental leave for 12 months from the arrival of a child. And yes, this applies equally to women and men.

Sound generous? Perhaps. But of course it’s not a purely altruistic gesture. This policy addresses a critical objective for Chief Talent Officer Tawni Cranz; “Netflix’s continued success hinges on us competing for and keeping the most talented individuals in their field.”

So there we have it. All Roles Flex. Annual leave ‘non-policies’. 12 months uncapped parental leave. Not only are these employee benefits head-turning differentiators in the quest to attract and retain the best talent, they also turn-up the dial on delivering genuine, tailored, work-life balance.

Whether these innovations are the precursor to a work-life balance revolution, only time will tell. What we do know is that employee needs and expectations are changing. And businesses serious about competing for top talent know the importance of taking notice and changing too.

 

Sources: http://www.afr.com/leadership/careers/pricewaterhousecoopers-trusts-staff-makes-all-roles-flexible-20150727-gileg0, Hudson’s The Hiring Report 2015, http://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/why-were-letting-virgin-staff-take-as-much-holiday-as-they-want, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/27/netflix-culture-deck-success_n_6763716.html, http://www.afr.com/technology/how-netflixs-parental-leave-policy-and-soaring-share-price-are-linked-20150804-girqd5, http://blog.netflix.com/2015/08/starting-now-at-netflix-unlimited.html