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If we think about the rights, allowances or benefits that an employee gets through his or her employment, is there value in an organisation thinking about ‘the whole’ rather than ‘the employee’? Would employees gain (in the long run)?

At a client we’re working with, where (annual) leave requests are dealt with through a paper process a bit of inter-colleague banter got me thinking – what if, as a team-lead, I had a set number of days from which all my team could take leave? What if I left it for the team to decide the exact division of their entitlements and benefits? At first glance you’ll be thinking : “it’ll never work”. People are inherently selfish, and work is a drag – I NEED my benefits and holidays to keep me sane.

Sure. I get that. But consider a team where real life happens. Some years, some of may be moving house, getting married, going travelling around the world, doing some voluntary work, suffering bereavements, giving birth.  Real life means that some years we need a bit of slack, perhaps to concentrate on non work matters. Would our work-society function if we could set out own allowances for things?  If I accept what people are doing, will I be more willing to work hard to cover for my colleagues?

I can see problems with this of course. I do wonder if it hints towards a bigger point – that the structure of society we have in the workplace could be adapted, tweaked or revised. Our practice of work-for-reward belittles the strands of existing within a society – and perhaps our rewards could be decoupled from ‘work’ and simply made to mean reward for participating in a ‘work-society’.

Oh wait, I just invented Communism. No hang on, I still get paid, phew.. no revolution and beards here.