Insurance software solutions provider SilverBridge has introduced a Discretionary Time Off leave policy for its employees.
This has been designed to strengthen its position as an employer of choice focused on promoting a people-centric culture inside the organisation.
The policy replaces all forms of traditional leave and empowers individuals and the team in which they work to manage their responsibilities around the time they would like to take off. There is no limit to the amount of days an employee can take off. And instead of having a manager approve the leave, the team evaluates how best to organise themselves and plan accordingly in terms of business deadlines and deliverables.
“Many traditional HR practices were developed at a time when the workplace was substantially different from what it is today. If we expect our employees to trust us in terms of the strategic and leadership decisions, why should we not trust them with the work they are responsible for and the time they take off? There is nothing more senseless than a good employee missing an event in their child’s life because there is not leave available,” says Lee Kuyper, COO at SilverBridge.
While Kuyper says that any policy is open to abuse, SilverBridge has taken its direction from what has worked, and failed, in other countries implementing similar systems.
“The way we are doing this focuses on giving accountability to the teams within SilverBridge on how best to achieve their objectives. There is still an ‘approval’ before someone can take time off, but this has two fundamental differences from just having a manager approve leave.”
Firstly, the team decides whether the time off is possible given their collective objectives. This ensures they manage the impact of someone going on leave. Secondly, the mind-set with which this is approached comes from a perspective of how it can be made possible instead of how to police it.
“Like any other attitude or behavioural problem, it will be difficult for an individual to continually abuse the policy at the cost of the team if that team is able to deal with it. Although this Discretionary Time Off policy represents a big mind shift for a mostly traditional South African market, we believe that expectations of employees who want increased flexibility is becoming the norm. Rather than see this as a threat and try to fight against this, we choose to use it to our advantage.”
The policy builds on the existing wellness functions within SilverBridge designed to take care of its employees. These include counselling services, providing financial advice, offering Pilates classes, a Wellness Challenge, giving employees the opportunity to randomly select someone in the organisation to receive a cash reward (Buying Happiness), and an internal initiative (Awesome Projects) incentivising employees who come up with innovative ideas that help drive business success.
“We believe that if we have happy people working at SilverBridge that it will make our customers happy and ultimately make the organisation more successful.”