Corporate Culture
change management questions
A corporate culture of freedom and responsibility

Step inside any company, no matter the size, stage of development, or level of success, and the culture is either driving the strategy or undermining it. To exist in the first place, a company must have a clear purpose, a deliberate intent, and a set of ideas that it uses to pursue a clear goal – but it’s the people who have to execute it.

But let’s face it – great corporate culture doesn’t just happen – you need to make it happen. Creating a high performance culture require many different elements. Is unlimited vacation policy one of them?

Co-founder Reed Hastings recently told Bloomberg Businessweek that Netflix has an unlimited vacation policy:

We want responsible people who are self-motivating and self-disciplined, and we reward them with freedom. The best example is our vacation policy. It’s simple and understandable: We don’t have one. We focus on what people get done, not on how many days they worked

At Netflix, we think you have to build a sense of responsibility where people care about the enterprise. Hard work, like long hours at the office, doesn’t matter as much to us. We care about great work. This requires thoughtful, mature high-performance employees

Hasting explained how the idea evolved:

My first company, Pure Software, was exciting and innovative in the first few years and bureaucratic and painful in the last few before it got acquired. The problem was we tried to systemize everything and set up perfect procedures. We thought that was a good thing, but it killed freedom and responsibility. After the company was acquired, I reflected on what went wrong.

In an effort to separate itself from bureaucratic corporations, Netflix, with its 900 employees, abandoned the typical vacation allotment to opt for a sky’s-the-limit plan.

Netflix isn’t the only company that has jumped on the all-you-want vacation bandwagon. IBM has a famously flexible time-off policy — letting employees leave early and take a day off on short notice, just so long as they have a handle on their workloads.

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Experienced senior executive, both at a strategic and operational level, with strong track record in developing, driving and managing business improvement and development and change management. International experience from management positions in Denmark, Germany and Switzerland View full profile


April 20, 2012 4:54 pm

This is a great article! It really does make sense that getting people passionate about their work, and allowing them to do what they do best in the way that works best for them. Giving employees the freedom to work their own way and take responsibility for their own results, is a sure fire way to lead to employee engagement. The real question is how to identify the best people, because if they are not innovative and interested in their work, the results are not going to be stellar. I have actually posted a Emergenetics Intl. vlog recently about strategies for  finding those innovative hires, and empowering them, so this goes hand in hand with what I was thinking!

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