Unlimited holiday means Golin's UK staff take 'two or three more days a year' - while Manifest London has 'stopped counting'

Golin's London staff have been taking an average of two or three days extra holiday a year since the firm introduced an unlimited leave policy 18 months ago, according to its MD.

In April 2016, Golin London launched Life Time, a "flexible, family-friendly benefits programme to help tackle diversity and the gender pay gap in PR and respond to millennials’ desire to work in a more flexible way".

Benefits include unlimited home or remote working, a wellbeing allowance of £50 per month and unlimited holiday for its 150 staff.

Speaking to PRWeek last month as part of an analysis on flexible and remote working, Golin London MD Bibi Hilton said of the unlimited leave policy: "On average, we find that people are taking about two or three days extra [annually]."

Prior to this, staff had a minimum leave allocation of 25 days, which increased based on length of service.

Hilton admitted that the issue of how much extra holiday staff would take was a "bit of an unknown" when the policy launched, but said it had been a success. "Our belief is that if we treat our team like adults they will feel respected and deliver the work they need to do. We see it as a sensible investment," Hilton said, adding: "Clients are actually quite envious."

She also explained that unlimited leave was available to all staff as long as they deliver work in line with expectations, and that there is still a sign-off process when colleagues want to take holiday.

Counting 'doesn't matter'

Another PR agency offering staff unlimited leave is small agency Manifest London, one of PRWeek UK's Best Places to Work awards winners this year.

The agency's founder Alex Myers told PRWeek that the firm has offered unlimited holiday for two years. He said: "At first we were counting how many days people took compared with previous years, but we gradually learned that none of that matters. We've grown to think about holiday in a completely different way. It's about space to breathe. To allow people to be as creative as they can be, and to remove the guilt or stress so often attached to taking holiday."

Myers noted that staff "don't take much more holiday on average", but instead take it "more evenly over the course of the year", and went on to say: "It's become clear to us that have X number of days holiday per year is an archaic and broken system.

"The 'everyone will be on holiday the whole time' warning is a myth, and so is the idea that people taking holiday somehow makes them less productive. It's part of a broader trust-based culture for sure, but more importantly it's part of a supportive culture designed to protect our standard of work and the wellbeing of our team. The time has come to stop counting days off."

Other PR firms with unlimited leave policies are PRWeek UK Award-winning small agency Battenhall, and Praytell, which was one listed among PRWeek US's Best Places to Work in 2015. Beyond PR, Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group is a high-profile adopter of the policy.

Read next: Does a PR agency really need an office? Virtual working takes off in comms

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