As a strategy to attract, retain and get the most out of employees, many forward thinking employers are starting to think “outside the box” when it comes to creating HR policies and benefit packages.
At first glance, many of these unconventional practices may seem outlandish and impractical; however, some are yielding desirable outcomes at a very low-cost. As the war for talent intensifies, and the target demographic shifts, it may be worthwhile for environmental employers to explore new, innovative HR practices.
Here are a few of my favourite, unconventional HR practices and benefits popping up in workplaces around the globe:
1) Unlimited Vacation Time:
Although, this perk sounds too good to be true, it is the reality in various organizations across North America. While “unlimited vacation time” holds different definitions depending on the company, the fact is that companies are experimenting with various ways to offer their employees flexible vacation time. Some companies truly offer unlimited vacation time with the expectation that employees still complete their workload in a timely manner. Other companies have no written vacation policy, but have unwritten expectations about how much time an employee can take.
This generous benefit has been reported to actually increase productivity in the right work environment (one where workers are engaged) and in many cases decrease the amount of vacation taken by employees. In other words, giving employees the autonomy to control their vacation time and workload instils trust, making the employees feel more loyal and dedicated to the success of the organization.
2) Workplace Nap Hour:
Sleeping at work to improve productivity?! While this claim may seem far-fetched, an article titled “Nap Your Way to the Top" published in Psychology News Today found that a short nap can be beneficial to cognitive functioning, workplace productivity and overall mood. As a result, numerous employers have implemented workplace nap policies, designating rooms for napping and going as far as purchasing specialty napping chairs to accommodate employees napping needs.
"Over the last few years, there's been a lot of focus on exercise and nutrition, but adequate sleep is arguably the most important element of productivity," says Christopher Lindholst, co-founder of MetroNaps®, which markets a napping chair called the EnergyPod® to such companies as Google® , Procter & Gamble® and Cisco Systems®. The EnergyPod® boasts ergonomic support and a built-in music system with a headphone jack to eliminate background noise. "The EnergyPod® is designed to provide some privacy, but it's typically installed in a common area so you create an environment of awareness and acceptance," says Lindholst.
3) Standing Work Stations
It has been found that workers who spend extended hours sitting at a desk are at greater risk for obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure and heart disease. As a solution to this, various workplaces have converted to standing work stations. Standing work stations are designed to improve posture, lower BMI, lower cholesterol and burn up to 60 extra calories per hour (compared to sitting).
Aside from health benefits, standing work stations also claim to increase productivity, creativity and concentration.
Like sitting for long periods of time, standing for extended periods of time also has disadvantages. For this reason, some organizations are now using a standing workstation, combined with a sitting workstation to create the optimum working environment.
Does your organization offer any similar or equally unconventional benefits? As an employer, would you consider any of these for your organization? We would love to hear from you!