From ‘paw-ternity’ leave to business class fares: The Aussie businesses offering more than hybrid work

the great resignation hybrid work

Years ago, the offer to work from home even once a month would have seemed like a luxury to many. But now, the idea of being mandated to be in the office five days a week seems obscene to most, and Aussie businesses are quickly realising the necessity of offering hybrid work models.

But with so much talk about The Great Resignation, it seems businesses also need to be doing much more than that to stand out against the competition. Here are four Aussie businesses leading the charge and offering staff perks that go above and beyond hybrid work.

Finder: Five days of paid ‘life leave’

Aussie fintech company Finder announced earlier this month that its adding an additional five days of paid ‘life leave’ for its 500-strong permanent employees, effective December 1, 2021.

‘Life leave’ can be used for any of life’s special occasions, such as “paw-ternity” leave when looking after a new pet, moving houses, a child’s first day of school, or community impact. It can even be used as heartbreak leave.

The additional five days will be available per financial year, and “normal” annual and sick leave balances will not affect whether — or when — life leave can be used.

Finder crew will get five days per financial year and annual and sick leave balances will not impact whether or when life leave can be used.

“Work-life balance is a myth, this is about work-life integration and we want to support our crew both inside and outside of work,” Finder’s chief people office Shanyn Payne said in a statement.

“You get the most out of people when they feel supported and looked after.”

Finder also introduced 20 weeks of parental leave for primary and secondary caregivers, as well as miscarriage, stillbirth, adoption, IVF and foster care leave.

Southern Cross Vet: Business class fares to Europe

Owner Sam Kovac operates three Southern Cross Vet clinics across New South Wales, and says the number of clinic veterinarians is incredibly low right now for various reasons. These include increased pet ownership during COVID-19 leading to an increased demand on vet services, and internationally trained vets returning to their home countries due to lockdowns.


Southern Cross Vet owner Dr Sam Kovac, pictured with his corgis Clara-Belle, Bonnie and Maddison. Source: supplied.

These reasons are why Southern Cross Vet has propositioned itself to be an “employer-of-choice” through flexible working conditions and attractive bonuses — not just salary increases.

“Salary increases are great but a ‘lazy option’ in my opinion,” Kovac tells SmartCompany. Instead, Southern Cross Vet offers a free team lunch every Wednesday, the opportunity to bring pets to work every day, and business class fares to Europe.

“The business and first class tickets are available to be ‘unlocked’ by all staff after 6 months of tenure with Southern Cross Vet. An additional week of paid leave is given for all those who unlock this benefit,” Kovac explains.

And for those who don’t want to travel internationally — such as those with young children — Southern Cross Vet also offers an alternative, including long weekends away at five star resorts in Australia.

Iress: Six extra long weekends per year

Iress has recently introduced a new offering aptly titled ‘The Long Weekend’, in which all permanent employees and fixed term contractors are able to take a Friday or Monday off work for up to six days per calendar year, with no impact to their leave balances or pay.

As Iress chief executive Andrew Walsh tells SmartCompany, the additional long weekends can be taken at any time of the year (one day per month), but they can’t be attached to annual leave or public/bank holidays. (Iress views the new offering as a promotion of down time for wellbeing, rather than an additional holiday).

“Changing the way we work to include regular extended weekends provides us with the ability to stop, take a breather, clear our minds and come back to work with renewed energy and perspective,” Walsh says.

“We strongly believe The Long Weekend initiative is going to enable all of us at Iress to achieve the bold, exciting goals we’ve set ourselves, to make good progress in our own personal growth and development goals, and maintain a healthy balance in all aspects of our lives.”

Cisco: Volunteering days

This year, Cisco took home its second consecutive win at the Great Place to Work awards, a “testament to the fact that our employees are happy”, Cisco ANZ’s head of HR James Comer tells SmartCompany.

The company continues to ensure its employees maintain this level of satisfaction by introducing new initiatives, such as its Time2Give policy, which involves five days of paid leave for staff to volunteer to support causes of their choice.

Comer says the development of the initiative grew from feedback within the organisation of employees wanting to give back to communities.

“People felt especially passionate toward NFP’s and also small businesses who were being especially challenged during the pandemic,” he says.

“While we have always encouraged Cisco employees to give back to causes and communities, we felt it was important to set a clear parameter around this and the additional five days a year for the Time2Give policy has been received phenomenally well across the company.”

Cisco also started giving its staff company-wide days off during the pandemic, an initiative that will continue post-lockdowns. There are two days off per quarter on an ad hoc basis, however Comer says these days always fall on a Friday or Monday to allow staff the opportunity to make the most of a long weekend.

“The Great Resignation is here to remind us that our people are choosing employers who offer them flexibility, growth, great experiences, healthy lifestyles, and psychologically safe environments where they will thrive.”

This week, we’ve flipped The Great Resignation narrative on its head to look at The Great Opportunity it offers to SMEs. Sign up now to SmartCompany Plus to read the full series.


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