New Zealand-Based software company offering unlimited annual leave to employees

A software company based in New Zealand is providing its staff with unlimited annual leave.

Actionstep has lifted the cap on days off, allowing their employees to go on vacation for as long as they want – no questions asked. This could be a first for New Zealand.

Stevie Mayhew, vice president of engineering at Actionstep, called it a “high–trust model.”

“It allows people to take the leave they need and then come in and do their best work for us,” he said.

“There was a little bit of scepticism at the start and a few questions asked like ‘can I just take three months off and go’ but we’ve been able to work through all the questions with our staff and get them excited for the opportunity it provides.

“We trust our staff and hope that they trust us as well.”

Although unlimited leave is a new notion on our shores, it is not the first time a firm has tried it.

Overseas, companies like Netflix, LinkedIn, and Visualsoft have all tried similar strategies in the past, but found that most employees took fewer days off than when given a set amount of days.

However, Actionstep still requires its employees to take at least four weeks off per year.

“We’ve instilled a minimum requirement to all our offices around the world so that we can track to these targets and make sure people are taking at least that much leave,” Mayhew said.

“We’d like people to take more though because it has better outcomes for everybody if they do.”

Andrew Barnes, who switched his financial services firm Perpetual Guardian to a 32-hour week, pioneered the four-day work week in 2018.

He anticipated that reducing working hours would increase production and mental health, and several other corporations have since followed suit.

However, during the last two years, Covid has played a crucial role in firms rethinking work-life balance for their employees.

Because of the pandemic, some companies implemented an unlimited sick leave policy.

Mayhew said they considered such options but determined that providing unlimited leave to all employees was the best approach to ensure that everyone could take the time they needed, when they needed it, and urged other businesses to follow suit.

“This way, it covers everything like sick leave, bereavement and maternity,” he said.

“This was the best option for us and our staff and think it’s worth investigating across the board for everybody.

“The people are the business and this way we can ensure we have happy and healthy staff who can do their best in their jobs.”