This article was originally published by News.com.au
By Alexis Carey
July 22, 2019
Most working parents dread the school holidays and the complicated juggle that comes with it — but not David Sundstrom.
The Sydney dad works in IT at accounting giant Ernst & Young (EY), which means he’s able to tailor his role around his personal life.
In April this year, EY announced its groundbreaking Life Leave policy, which allows staff a staggering 12 weeks off per year, which can be taken in one or two blocks of time.
That extra, self-funded annual leave can be used for travel, relaxation or any other purpose, and the company has also rolled out other options including term-time working for busy parents and temporary part-time stints.
Mr Sundstrom opted for the term-time policy, which means he works five days a week while school is in session and is paid for four — but he gets to take the entire school holidays off.
It allows the 40-year-old to care for his two kids while his wife works full-time in a “demanding” job without too much disruption.
“It’s great — it means I have more time with the kids and my daughter in particular, which makes managing the holidays a lot easier,” he told news.com.au.
“It’s one less thing to worry about, and it really makes it easier regarding holiday pick-up and drop-off times — it simplifies things.
“It’s a great opportunity and not very many workplaces in my experience offer those sorts of flexibility and benefits.”
He is available to help his co-workers out “over the phone” if needed during his leave and compared the arrangement to a “dream job”.
EY’s people partner for Oceania, Kate Hillman, agreed and told news.com.au the policies had been “well received” by staff, with five already taking them up.
“We introduced a number of new policies to address a growing demand for flexible work environments, which we recognise is not limited to working parents,” she said.
“Millennials are also driving a demand for flexibility, and with around 80 per cent of our workforce to be made up of Millennials by next year, we want to ensure we are responding to their demands for flexibility as well as diverse, stimulating career experiences outside of the traditional workplace structures and timelines.
“Our employees now have the flexibility to pursue passions or demands outside of work while maintaining job security, which is a balance that hasn’t been previously available to the corporate Australian workforce.”
She said the company had formalised flexible working arrangements that had previously existed, which helped remove the “stigma” some employees may have felt when asking for extra leave.
But EY is just one of a number of Aussie workplaces embracing coveted leave policies.
Three years ago, Amantha Imber introduced an unlimited paid annual leave policy at her innovation consultancy Inventium.
It made headlines across the globe at the time, and although some critics dismissed it as a gimmick that would allow a company to own employees around the clock, Dr Imber said her staff now took five-and-a-half weeks paid annual leave a year, well over the national average.
“From a financial perspective, revenue and profits have remained really strong, and in the past three years the biggest difference we’ve seen is sick leave being reduced — staff now take 2.5 days a year compared to the Australian average of eight or nine days per year,” she told news.com.au.
“That’s a good cost saving, and while obviously staff are taking more leave, the net result has been increased productivity, and staff tenure has also doubled over that time.”
Dr Imber, who also hosts the How I Work podcast, said the generous policy worked thanks to “really good communication” and mutual “respect and understanding” among team members, and she personally took around six weeks off per year to lead by example.
Want to become a better innovator?
We’ve created a report that will teach you 10 science-based strategies to eliminate distraction, turbo-charge progress on your most important projects, and the ideal way to end your workday.