• “We make so many decisions in our lives. You give people something like unlimited holiday, and you’re just adding another decision to make.”
• Unlimited leave sounds like a great idea at first… but could it ACTUALLY be a hindrance?
• In this session, we’ll be speaking to Amy Cowpe and Matt Collins about why they chose to ditch unlimited leave, and how you can get your agency’s annual leave formula just right.
“People like structure, especially at work. We make so many decisions in our lives. You give people something like unlimited holiday, and you’re just adding another decision to make.”
Unlimited leave sounds like a great idea at first… but could it ACTUALLY be a hindrance?
CharlieHR originally adopted unlimited leave to create more trust in their team, giving their staff the autonomy to decide how much holiday they deserved – it even helped them with recruitment.
“It was a real selling point,” says Amy Cowpe, chief of people at CharlieHR. “Anyone who would interview at Charlie would talk to us about why they were excited to join, and there was always a lot of hype around the fact that we had an unlimited holiday policy.”
But problems soon started to arise – Amy started to notice a great deal of disparity in how much leave the team was taking.
“It made people feel not very psychologically safe, not knowing what number they were working towards,” she says. “No one really knew what was acceptable.”
“You can say unlimited, but that doesn’t mean you can take 50 days a year. But we also don’t want people to take only 10 days a year, because that’s not good for their mental health,” says Amy.
“There was a number we had in mind that was the acceptable range. So, to then call it unlimited, was a bit of a lie.”
“The idea was to introduce a shiny, trendy, new benefit,” says Matt. “We’d seen that Virgin had done it and thought that it would be a cool thing to have here too.”
However, Matt soon noticed the same problems as Amy, and then some.
“It was almost impossible to plan delivery of client projects when you had no idea how much time people were going to take off,” Matt says.
“We’re a service agency, so we sell people’s time. If we don’t know how much time we have to sell, we can’t run the business,” he says. “It’s like a printing company not knowing how many books they’ve got in stock.
In this session, Amy and Matt will discuss the reasons they got rid of unlimited leave, and how you can get your agency’s annual leave formula just right.