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Published: 16 Jun 2015

Deloitte, Joint Winner 2015, The DTCC Best for Innovation Award

Deloitte’s Time Out initiative, which allows employees to take an extra four-week block of leave each year, has proven to be a popular addition to the firm’s agile working practices.  As the firm says: “It helps our people to achieve a better balance between their career and other commitments such as family. Our people say they love the policy.” Time Out is an excellent demonstration that sometimes a simple and straightforward approach can be incredibly successful in attracting and retaining the best people and giving a competitive advantage.

Time Out was introduced in summer 2014 in recognition of the fact people were balancing family and other personal commitments alongside demanding careers. Time Out allows any employee with over a year’s service to request a four-week block of extra leave, unsalaried but with continuing benefits allowances, to be taken at a mutually acceptable time. Employees can request a Time Out each year with the hope they return to work re-energised.

Over 200 people, from all parts of the business and at all levels, have requested a Time Out since June 2014. The firm has seen that people request Time Out for a variety of different reasons, for example:

“I am taking off the last two weeks of August to spend some quality time with the children before both are in full-time education.  I will then also have the first two weeks of September off to settle my son into school – something I don’t want to miss and I’m glad Deloitte allows me the time to do this. The children have been desperate for a dog for some time now so I also plan to use my Time Out to settle and train a puppy!”

The organisation monitors Time Out requests each month and has been delighted that the majority of people have been able to take their preferred dates, with only four being asked to identify alternative dates to better match business resource needs.

Time Out has been very successful in supporting the organisation’s women in leadership ambitions with 55% of the requests coming from female employees, the majority of whom are operating at the level of manager or above – a critical retention point of women for Deloitte.

The initiative has been championed at senior level and awareness raised by the executive group through a range of engaging communication activities.  Feedback has included: “I thought Time Out was a stunning idea. Likely to make people stick around. Well done!” and “The programme for 4 weeks’ unpaid leave is very positive. Whether people choose to use it or not, having the option to do so reinforces that Deloitte values work–life balance.”

Six months post-launch, Deloitte ran a campaign to identify role models to champion the benefits of agile working and address any potential stigma associated with working flexibly. These case studies include representatives from all areas of the business and at all grades. All of this activity has helped to make agile working Deloitte’s most improved item in the 2014 People Engagement survey, up by 12%.