Unlimited Time Off?
Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.
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We recently hired a millennial into a client-servicing role. She doesn’t have a great deal of financial experience, but we believe we can teach her the fundamentals. We like her attitude and approach and know it will fit into our culture.
During the interview process, she talked about another job she was considering and mentioned one of the benefits was “unlimited paid time off.” My partner and I were taken aback by this. How could any company offer their staff this perk? We didn’t know if she was embellishing and trying to negotiate a better package. We ended up agreeing to let her work from home two days a week. Now my partner is second-guessing whether she was completely truthful.
Have you heard of this? Is this really a thing in some firms?
The short answer to your question is “yes,” I absolutely have heard of this and it is a trend in many companies trying to attract millennials. The irony is that among the companies that are doing this, there is no abuse of time off. It’s almost as if employees recognize the risk the firm is taking and they don’t want to be the one to upset everything and have the perk either taken away or punish the company. Similarly, I see the recent news that Microsoft is utilizing a four-day workweek and its productivity is soaring as a result.
I’m going to guess that since your employee isn’t from our industry, the other firm she was considering was not a financial advisory firm. I’m aware of this trend mostly in tech companies trying to attract talent, but I’m not aware of too many smaller advisory firms offering perks such as this. I have seen many larger firms offering sabbaticals to team members who have been there for some period of time or allowing time off for social/charitable activities.
The benefits discussion is going to become more and more important as firms compete with technology options and try and attract the next generation. Most millennials don’t want to work their lives away; they want balance between work and home life and time off to enjoy life. Unlike my generation that was all about sacrifice, working harder than we should and saving until we retire and then enjoy life, the younger generations see the folly of this and want to have balance much earlier in their lives.
This puts the pressure on firms to find ways to get the work done, but also allow employees to enjoy their lives. Expecting your employees to respond to texts during family dinner-time, or work on weekends to catch up or give up a vacation because a client needs something is going to become less acceptable. That’s not to say people don’t want to work hard and do a good job, or that they won’t go the extra mile when necessary. But balance will be key.
Figure out what is reasonable and doable in your environment. You came to a reasonable agreement by offering the three day in-office work week. Give your partner the confidence that your new employee was likely not playing you and was being honest about another opportunity. She is probably very happy that you came up with a solution to meet her needs. Focus on grooming her and hopefully seeing your “meet in the middle” approach pay off.
What happened to the days when doing your best at work was a value? One of my advisors makes all kinds of silly errors on things. When I call his attention to it, the response is always, “Oh, my bad – I will fix it.” But then the next time around, the same mistake happens again. I’m not looking for him to throw himself on the floor and beg for mercy. But a little emotion or saying, “I’m sorry and here is what I am doing differently,” would be nice. I’m old-school and unless someone admits their mistake and owns responsibility, they aren’t going to change. I don’t see him owning anything or changing.
I’m not sure if your question is a rhetorical one, but have you considered this isn’t about working hard, but rather about behavioral differences and mismatched expectations? I work with behavioral differences in the way we communicate and our emotional responses. I can’t help but think your style and his are very different. Some people are very emotive and dramatic in their response; others are completely non-emotional no matter what happens. You might be looking for him to respond to your feedback in a manner that you would do so if someone were to point out a similar mistake. Consider that he might take it very seriously, but he might not want to show you any upset or reaction.
There is another piece around expectations. If you want him to come to you with what he will do differently to fix his approach, then state that. In fact, give him a date and expectation (written, verbal, specific) about what you want from him. You are expecting him to read your mind – again, for you it might be obvious to have a plan to change, but he might have no idea what he should do to get better.
And here’s the last thing I’d ask you to consider – are you asking him to do something he fundamentally is not capable of doing or doesn’t have the necessary knowledge to be able to do? He might be doing his best and struggling at some of the pieces of what you need from him. Continuing to push him and have expectations without trying to understand why the errors keep happening is only going to shut him down. From a coaching perspective, you want to understand why and see whether there is anything you or the firm can do to help him.
Refrain from assuming he doesn’t want to do his best. Assume he is trying but not succeeding. Instead of pushing against him, work with him to come up with a better approach.
Beverly Flaxington co-founded The Collaborative, a consulting firm devoted to business building for the financial services industry in 1995. The firm also founded and manages the Advisors Sales Academy. She is currently an adjunct professor at Suffolk University teaching undergraduate and graduate students Entrepreneurship and Leading Teams. Beverly is a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst (CPBA) and Certified Professional Values Analyst (CPVA).
She has spent over 25 years in the investment industry and has been featured in Selling Power Magazine and quoted in hundreds of media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, MSNBC.com, Investment News and Solutions Magazine for the FPA. She speaks frequently at investment industry conferences and is a speaker for the CFA Institute.