Time is the New Money

There’s a new currency emerging in employees’ benefits schemes; time. Ask the best employee you have to work 12-hour days, seven days a week and he or she will eventually (and unhappily) quit no matter how much you pay. But give your employees their time back, and you give them their freedom. Give them their freedom, and they can work without that nagging feeling of constraint or wishing they were somewhere else–because essentially, they have their freedom because they have their job.

Virgin employees have unlimited vacation days, which allow all salaried staff to take off whenever they want for as long as they want (without having to keep track!). Netflix also allows unlimited vacation days, and no one–not employees themselves nor managers–keeps track of time off. It works!

Back in the old days – 2004 – Netflix treated holidays the old-fashioned way: it allotted everyone N days a year. You either used them up – or you duked it out with accounting to try to get paid for the time you didn’t consume.

But eventually some employees recognised that this arrangement was at odds with how they really did their jobs. After all, they were responding to emails on weekends, they were solving problems online at home at night. And every so often, they would take off an afternoon to ferry a child to the pediatrician or to check in on an aging parent.

Since Netflix wasn’t tracking how many hours people were logging each work day, these employees wondered, why should it track how many holidays people were taking each work year? (Pink, D. H., The Telegraph)

Why does it work? Think about it; if you have the greatest job in the world that lets you take all the time off you want, would you abuse it at the risk of losing a job? Or would you work twice as hard to ensure the company succeeds and doesn’t change their awesome holiday scheme?

Alternatively, if you work for a company that deducts pay every time you come in late, and doesn’t pay any extra for all the times you come in early or work late, would you stay? How frustrated would you be?

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