Silicon Valley companies are renowned for being especially innovative. So what are some quirky approaches to leadership that have paid off for Silicon Valley when it comes to workplace productivity? And can they be applied to your business?
We’ve compiled four of the best ideas Australian SMEs could consider to boost staff engagement.
Have an open vacation policy
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Pure Storage, an all-flash enterprise storage company, takes a flexible approach to employees taking time off work.
Its ‘open vacation’ policy allows employees to choose how much annual leave they want rather than the employer deciding.
David Hatfield, president of Pure Storage, says this is one of the contributing factors to the business’s 700% year-on-year growth.
Hatfield told The Australian the policy is about employees having a work-life balance and bringing a refreshed energy and attitude back into the workplace.
“From our travel policy to holiday policy, people ultimately make decisions that are in the best interest of the company but also aligned with their interests as a family,” he said. “We want to support and create a culture where people have the ability to do that. People ultimately choose the holiday times they have and we encourage people to do so.”
Pure Storage’s approach is about cultivating the workplace culture they want to see, rather than laying down a strict set of rules. And at a time when employees are expecting greater flexibility and work/life balance, the company’s innovative approach to annual leave is sure to win over some of the best talent.
Get rid of email
At Automattic – the company behind popular blogging platform WordPress – time-consuming emails have been dispensed with. Instead, employees use Google Hangout in order to foster collaboration and get quick results.
The idea is to get rid of emails and in-person boardroom meetings that leave employees with more work but less time to do it.
According to research by Atos Origin, the average employee spends 40% of their working week dealing with internal emails.
All this spare time allows people to try new things and channel their energy into other areas of the workplace.
Rethink the 9-5 working day
Another innovative workplace policy from Automattic is their approach to work hours.
Employees are encouraged to ditch the 9-5 grind and work when they are feeling the most productive. The emphasis is on what people produce, rather than how long they spend at their desk.
Matt Mullenweg, founder and CEO of Automattic, has written about the success of uncoupling his workforce from the traditional working day.
“I don’t care what hours you work,” he wrote. “I don’t care if you sleep late or if you pick up a child at school in the afternoon. I don’t care of you spend the afternoon on the golf course and then work from 2 to 5pm. What do you actually produce?”
Pay unhappy employees to quit
Riot Games, a games developer based in the US, is offering its employees up to $US25,000 in cash to quit their jobs after the first 60 days if they are unhappy with the company.
According to a statement on the business’s website, the policy is about retaining the best talent in order to preserve the company’s workplace culture.
“If someone gags on the unique flavour of our culture, they’d be doing themselves and the company a disservice to hang on just for the paycheck,” the statement reads. “Culturally aligned people and teams are more effective, and alignment around mission and values allows us to better serve players.”
Those who elect to leave their position after 60 days will be paid 10% of their annual salary, which is capped at $25,000.
Although the company has a Sydney office, the policy is only available to staff in the US.
This article first appeared on StartupSmart.