Taking Employee Empowerment to the Next Level

Taking Employee Empowerment to the Next Level

employeeThe DAVIS Companies and its employees have received significant recognition for being one of the best places to work.  As a result, I have been fortunately enough to attend several awards dinners and ceremonies over the past couple years.  I can say first hand, it’s a good feeling to stand there among the best of the best.  Each time we are nominated for this kind of recognition, we take pause to really look at the other recipients.  We want to know what makes them great and how can we be even better.  One common thread that we see over and over is the true commitment to empowering employees.  At DAVIS, we too are committed to fostering a culture of empowerment.  This year, we took this mentality to an entirely new level and moved to an uncapped PTO (Paid Time Off) policy for our internal Sales, Recruiting and Support teams with tenure over two years.

In my position, I network with lots of HR people every day and I have shared this news with many of them.  Interestingly, the reaction has been mixed.  Some fear that employees could abuse the policy; others fear it limits management’s power to control.  The truth is, we don’t want managers to have to control employees to the extent that they need to be told to come to work. Instead, we want people to be so engaged in their own jobs that they can effectively decide when it makes sense to take time off and when it doesn’t.  We believe that after being a part of our team and our culture for two years, our employees know what it takes to get the job done and what their teams need to balance the work.

The idea started to grow roots this past fall when we had several employees get married.  It seemed like people were being force to choose between which weddings to attend due to available vacation time.  This hit home with our President and CEO, Bob Davis.  Bob was proud of the fact that our employees were friends outside of work and that they wanted to invite their co-workers to their weddings.  He also recognized that weddings are a significant milestone in people’s lives and he didn’t want our employees to have to decide on whether or not to attend based on a policy that only allowed “X” number of days off.  Our leadership team felt strongly that our employees were responsible enough to make those decisions based on more significant issues like performance and production.  And so, we wanted to make a change.

Contrary to some initial reactions, this policy does not mean that employees can come and go as they please.  It doesn’t mean that people can suddenly not show up for work or can take every Friday off.   Time off must still be requested in advance and approved to ensure coverage.  Obviously, not everyone can take the same day off; after all, we are still running a business.  The funny thing is we are not even a little concerned about absenteeism under this new policy.  We have never had problems with this and we don’t expect them now. Instead, we are more concerned about the flip side of that coin.  We are concerned that people might not take time for fear that it may damage their reputation.  We truly want people to take time off because we wholeheartedly believe that time away from work recharges the batteries of the very people we depend on every day to drive our business. We know we are among a very small number of companies that have adopted such a progressive policy and we are excited to see it come to life.  We believe that our employees will appreciate the flexibility and will do what it takes to balance their time off against the work that needs to be done.

What do you think?  Would this level of freedom work in your office?

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