The longest possible holidays, personal time off, work-life balance. These are increasingly important needs of Czech employees. According to a survey by the ABSL association, which brings together companies from the corporate, IT and customer service sectors in the Czech Republic, companies are therefore starting to offer their people completely new types of time off. In addition to the now almost standard 5 weeks of holidays and sick days, sabbaticals, loyalty days, happy days or unlimited holidays are also appearing to an increasing extent. In total, up to 10 types of benefits associated with time off are offered in the office sector.
The popularity of these benefits is also evidenced by a survey conducted by Grafton Recruitment. It shows that, for example, holidays of 5 weeks or more are the second and sick leave the fourth most popular benefit. According to the ABSL survey, additional paid days off are offered by 77% of companies in the corporate, IT and customer service sectors. Compared to the previous year, this is an increase of ten percentage points. The most common and also the most well-known benefit from this group are the so-called sick days, which an employee can use if he or she is not feeling well and does not have to provide any proof of incapacity. According to ABSL, 65% of companies provide these to employees and the most common is 3-5 days during the calendar year. Study leave is also increasingly common in office-based industries and would be appreciated by almost 70% of employees.
“Due to the rapid growth, adoption of new technologies and expanding reach, companies in our industry place a lot of emphasis on education. On average, they provide their people with 50 hours of training programmes a year, in addition to around a quarter of employers supporting their people’s development with study leave,”
explains Jonathan Appleton, Director of ABSL.
Happy days or loyalty leave are new
Another new benefit that is starting to emerge is happy days, which employees can use for birthdays and celebrations with family and operate on a similar principle to sick days. In most cases, this is a maximum of 3 days per year. Similarly, some companies also offer days off to take care of necessary business at offices, banks or schools. Loyalty leave is also an interesting novelty. This has recently been introduced by the SAP Services Innovation and Business Services Centre in Prague together with other members of the SAP Group in the Czech Republic, including SAP Ariba, SAP Concur and SAP ČR.
“All employees will be eligible for the Loyalty Leave benefit after three years of service. The specific number of days off then depends on the length of service at SAP and is a maximum of 5 days per year,”
explains Iveta Chválová, Director of SAP Services.
Shortened working week and unlimited holidays
Some employers are also starting to offer benefits in the form of unlimited paid time off, which, according to a survey conducted by Grafton Recruitment, almost three quarters of employees would like. In the case of this attractive benefit, trust in the team and adherence to set rules is very important. Usually, companies have a rule that the absence of a given person must not disrupt the team’s work and the leave is approved by the manager. The idea is that the employees are responsible enough to judge for themselves whether they can take time off. One of the companies that has started to provide this benefit is, for example, the Pure Storage research and development centre in Prague. Its employees can take it after completing an important project and after agreeing with their supervisor. The goal is to recharge their energy and inventiveness for further projects.
There is also a drive in the industry to shorten the working week. This is possible, for example, at Atlas Copco’s Brno centre, where employees work 2.5 hours less per week, but at full pay.
“Taking care of our employees is an integral part of our company culture and we regularly address the topic of mental well-being. That’s why we have a reduced working week of 37.5 hours per week, which is appreciated not only by parents with young children, but by everyone who values free time. Over the years, we have seen that this benefit does not detract from our efficiency, so our colleagues get almost another 5 days off per year, an unofficial 6th week of vacation,”
says Roman Pavloušek, CEO of Atlas Copco Services.
Sabbatical break as a prevention of burnout syndrome
A form of sabbatical is the sabbatical, which is mainly known in academia as a leave of up to a year for research, self-education or psycho-hygiene. This form of leave is now also found in the traditional corporate environment, but usually for shorter periods, most often 1-3 months. Sabbaticals are usually requested when people feel they need a long break from work or when they want to travel and pursue more of their hobbies. In many cases it can also prevent burnout syndrome. Although most sabbaticals are unpaid, some employers offer partially paid sabbaticals.
SAP has come up with a special form of sabbatical by offering its employees a so-called Social Sabbatical. As part of the paid two-week sabbatical, people have the opportunity to help out at a selected charity or non-profit organization. More than two and a half thousand employees in Prague and Brno can use their skills and experience to help solve the challenges faced by non-profit and social enterprises. At the same time, they can step out of the familiar work routine, broaden their horizons and gain inspiration for their future work. SAP Social Sabbatical was held in the Czech Republic for the first time in 2021.
“The benefits associated with time off are among the most sought after in our industry, and it’s no wonder, creative and innovative work needs to be balanced with sufficient time off. Thanks to the approach of employers in our industry, employees have plenty of room to recharge their batteries and be inventive for their next projects. This is also why the industry continues to grow and innovate the world’s business,”
comments Jonathan Appleton, Director of ABSL, on these benefits.