Richard Branson is no stranger to hitting the headlines, as the boss of one of the most lucrative business empires in the world the billionaire business owner is an icon for entrepreneurs the world over. In order to turn his empire into what it is today, Branson has had to make some rather business savvy moves, however none of his decisions have managed to stir up a debate like his latest managerial choice.
Reports have been circulating that he has implemented a workplace policy that allows employees to take as much time off work as they want. The particularly forward-thinking policy only applies to employees who are lucky enough to be a part of Branson’s Virgin Unite foundation, his 170 UK and US domestic staff , and staff that work in his PR/brand, marketing, and investment team.
The policy has left employees who are unfortunate enough to not work for Virgin green with envy, and employers scratching their heads at Branson’s bold move. He declared the workplace policy on Virgin’s blog stating:
It is left to the employee alone to decide if and when he or she feels like taking a few hours a day, a week or a month off, the assumption being that they are only going to do it when they feel 100% comfortable that they and their team are up to date on every project and that their absence will not in any way damage the business – or, for that matter, their careers!
With issues like work-life balance refusing to be brushed under the carpet and employees working longer hours, not to mention concerns over employee wellbeing as well - Richard Branson may have stumbled upon a solution.
This is the kind of “hands off, “experimental approach in regards to employees that is probably something that many employers wouldn’t even think of. Some might even say that Branson’s taste for business innovation may have gone a step too far this time. By allowing employees to have a say when it comes to taking time off work, Branson is addressing many workplace issues that so many employers struggle with.
The policy may not be a practical or even a logical choice to some, but it’s a choice that demonstrates employee value, trust and compassion. 58% of British employees feel under-valued in the workplace which is why Branson’s controversial policy is a step in the right direction towards allowing his employees to feel valued and trustworthy. The policy gives them the opportunity to almost customize their work-life balance at the same time. He has definitely raised the bar when it comes to workplace culture as well.
This policy can be considered to be nothing more than a bid to win employee favour, but with employees increasingly embracing remote working this policy is not as radical as it may appear to be.
There may not be wide-spread use of this policy any time soon but it does demonstrate the need to empower employees, to motivate them and bestow more workplace responsibility which in turn boosts staff morale, retention and job satisfaction.