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Could unlimited time off backfire?

Read the full article on Ignites Europe, a Financial Times service.

Following the announcement that BlackRock is to grant employees unlimited time off work, Katharine Henley, people and talent expert at PA Consulting Group, says the move sends out a “strong message” about the importance of work-life balance.

She continues: “It is great to see BlackRock shaking up the market by doing something radical”.  

However, Katharine adds that implementing such a policy could backfire if not supported by the company’s leadership and culture. “Too often employers implement a new policy and hope for the best [...] Unlimited time off just won’t work if the cultural issues aren’t dealt with first,” she says.

Katharine goes on to say that employers need to instil a culture where “work-life integration has really taken hold” as this will be attractive not just to millennials but a “broad range” of potential employees.

“Employers need to be honest with themselves about the barriers to work-life integration,” says Katharine. “Too often the onus is on employees to make it work without practical support from their employer.”

She continues: “Organisations need to focus on specifics such as how they treat people working part time compared with full timers and ask whether they are getting the same chance to progress and develop.

“They also need to address what support infrastructure is in place for people working from home.

“Moreover those questions need to be asked by people at the top.

“Only then will companies change the culture and create an environment that attracts the best talent.”

Contact the people and talent team


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