In a recent article on The Guardian website, Stefan Stern debates the apparent ‘labour market paradox’ that we’re currently seeing in the UK. Despite the recent years of economic instability, we’re seeing relatively high levels of employment but only marginal economic growth.
Whether there’s a link between the economic growth rate and the performance of workers across the UK is almost irrelevant. The main interest of the article was in Stern’s discussion of the merits of introducing unlimited leave.
He argues that:
“Part of the answer must lie in so-called “presenteeism”: the low productivity of people who are physically present at work but who, for a variety of reasons, are not contributing all that they could. For many people today, work really isn’t working.”
Well, we won’t argue with that.
Though it is true that a large percentage of workers in the UK are completely disengaged; is the introduction of ‘unlimited holidays’ really the answer?
Stern points to Netflix and Evernote as working examples of how this can benefit both the company and workforce. They both operate an ‘unlimited holiday’ policy and have seen some great results. But does that mean it would work for all organisations?
Evernote and Netflix are both innovative companies who’s staff already show clear signs of involvement. They probably didn’t ever suffer from ‘presenteeism’ in the first place.
Though a company’s holiday policy is a crucial part of the way it encourages autonomy, responsibility and ownership amongst its workforce, it certainly shouldn’t be used as a magic solution for companies who are trying to build involvement. For those companies, the approach needs to be far more considered.
‘Presenteeism’ is the opposite of involvement. If you have team members who simply turn up to work to be there, you need to start taking action. However, rather than focusing on giving them more autonomy to choose when they are at work, your focus should be on what they do when they are at work.
Unless your workforce share the company vision, take ownership of initiatives and feel valued, they will inevitably disengage. Your job as a manager is to find ways to empower them so that they want to come to work, want to get involved and want the company to succeed. If you can reach that point, your holiday policy won’t even matter.
Are you struggling with ‘presenteeism’? Want to find out what your options are? Why not give us a call?