As much time off as you choose? - [website] Email Print
Published: 19th of Jan 2017 by: Carolyn Kessler

A company that doesn't limit your leave at all - doesn't even record the days you're on vacation. Sound like heaven? Well Netflix is the company for you then...

“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? Fair point, said management.”

"We should focus on what people get done, not how many hours or days worked. Just as we don't have a nine to five day policy, we don't need a vacation policy.”


This is a revolutionary new concept where employees hold themselves accountable to achieve their key performance indicators and choose when and how to work to reach their goals.

Seems counter-intuitive, yet the productivity of their company has done the opposite of a nosedive. It’s an incredibly clever choice – trusting staff members to police themselves. There’s no catch either. Management and staff collaborate closely to determine what is expected of them – KPI’s are mutually agreed upon and the employees are then left to decide how much time off they can take whilst being fully cognisant of their responsibilities.

Denmark has introduced a six-hour working day – they have recognised that these are the most productive hours and have designed their policies around this clever thinking.

Most South African companies would battle to implement these ideas effectively because – dare I say it – we, as employees, aren’t always great at holding ourselves accountable. However, one of the most effective ways for a company to ensure their staff behave like irresponsible kids is to treat them as if they are. A critical parent verses irresponsible child management style, based on fear, still flourishes in many of companies. No matter your industry, this is a lose/lose situation.

When we consider the possibility of introducing a model such as that at Netflix, we have to be aware of the challenges with which many of our local industries are faced:

For instance, it is difficult to allow a high degree of latitude when dealing with a workforce that has to be on site to carry out their duties at times proscribed by a set of logistics unique to a specific industry or company.

Added to this, effective management of a largely unsophisticated workforce comprised of semi- or unskilled labourers would require a more hands-on approach. I understand that. Engagement of workers tends to be more difficult the lower they are on the totem pole, for a number of reasons. I get that too. But it’s essential we don’t equate hands-off with lack of boundaries. Rather, we help people to internalise their own boundaries and with a clear undertaking to speak up when either party feels these aren’t being respected.

Our strategies to enhance employee engagement require thinking out-of-the-box, creatively and positively overhauling outdated beliefs, procedures and systems. Which is what Netflix has done – does this unstructured approach appeal to you?

Let us know what you think in the comments!

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