Photo credit: infocus.london
I recently read an article that celebrated a high-tech company that decided to give its employees the great benefit of unlimited number of vacation days. The company leaders expect this move to lead to better results for the company.
I too applaud this move, and believe that it will lead to better performance and results. But not necessarily because more vacation days will improve the well-being of company employees, and reduce their level of stress. Clearly those benefits can be expected. And yet, I believe that the key factor in the long-term improvement of the company’s performance will be greater trust.
Letting employees take unlimited vacation days sends a strong message: we trust you. Also, the same can be said for flextime, telecommuting, and any other leadership tool that can build trust.
Trust is the glue of life
I believe that trust is the foundation of great organizations, and successful companies.
Trust leads to confidence. Confidence brings out the best in a person, which leads to better performance. Employees that feel trusted demonstrate greater commitment and loyalty, and have lower levels of stress and anxiety.
An environment of trust makes true cooperation possible, decision making simpler (and faster), and communication more efficient. It leads to high-performance teams and companies.
However, creating a trust-based organization requires leaders to sincerely believe in it and fully commit to it. Employees must feel that this is genuine and that they are really trusted. Any conflicting message, such as allowing unlimited number of vacation days but actually counting them, will adversely affect employees trust and lead to lower commitment and dissatisfaction.
However, leaders should not be naive, or ignore violation of trust. On the contrary, to build an environment of trust, one must be vigilant in addressing any abuse of this trust. The company should remove any employee that doesn’t fit such a culture, and clearly communicate the cause. Furthermore, people should feel that trust is mutual, that it’s respected and expected, and that lack of trust is not tolerated. For distrust is like a cancer, if it’s not identified and dealt with promptly, it will spread and destroy the entire organization.
And yet, that should not deter leaders from choosing to trust. Even if occasionally you will experience disappointments, I believe it’s the best way to build a great company.
Finally, to quote Stephen Covey: “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships”.