I'm a huge fan of Mad Men and apparently so are a number of innovative company leaders. These companies are taking some of the best practices of the sixties and inserting them into their organizations. (No, I'm not talking about putting in fully stocked liquor cabinets, although some companies like Diageo and Boston Beer actually do have bars on the property.) They are creating cultures where people are able to do their best work on their own terms.
Take Cambridge, MA-based, Hubspot. The company prides itself on it's no vacation policy, which is actually an unlimited vacation policy. Here are some reasons, according to their Web site, why they are so liberal:
1. The state-of-the-art vacation plan these days is a relic of an era when people worked 9 to 5 in an office, like our fathers did. The Internet and mobile devices have enabled our employees to work where they are comfortable (often at home) and the hours they are comfortable (often in the middle of the night).
2. I always thought is was strange when an employee would hand me a paid time off form for a weekday, but never handed me a credit form for the Saturday and Sunday they just put in. Since we are not tracking weekend days worked as credit, the weekday time off just didn't seem fair.
3. We hire very smart people who are very focused on contributing to the growth of our company. We trust that the folks will use "common sense" with regards to taking an appropriate amount of time off.
Las Vegas-based Zappos is another company that has gone mad. They actually pay new hires $2,000 to quit. That's right and there are no strings attached. CEO Tony Hsieh doesn't want people hanging around that don't want to be there. You get the feeling that Don Draper, of Mad Men fame, would do the same thing if his advertising firm was more financially sound.
California-based Trader Joes is another place where madness is embraced. Just look at all the smiling faces on those employees who proudly wear their Hawaiian shirts. This is a place where food, fun and opportunity align. Attend any pre-store opening and you'll see lines of people waiting for an opportunity to join the crew. That's because the store prides itself on it's promote from within policy ... something copywriter Peggy Olson, of the fictional advertising firm, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce can relate to and it's quirky style of leadership.
If the normal 9-5 work atmosphere keeps giving you normal results then perhaps it's time to go back to a simpler time. A time when employees gave it their all.
Roberta Chinsky Matuson is the President of Human Resource Solutions and author of the forthcoming book, Suddenly in Charge! Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around (Nicholas Brealey, January 2011). Visit Roberta's Blog on the Generations at Work or her Linked-in Group Suddenly in Charge! Sign up to receive a complimentary subscription to Roberta's monthly newsletter, HR Matters