7 Unique Workplace Policies Your Company Needs

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Working a nine-to-five work schedule, with your own little corner desk and a few weeks of annual leave, was at one point considered a great job opportunity that, in turn, created loyalty and satisfaction amongst employees. 

Now, however, the story has very much changed, and the things we once considered ideal or advantageous in a role, we now expect as the bare minimum. 

Today’s employees are demanding a better work-life balance and are searching for fulfilment in what they do. According to the Office of National Statistics, full-time workers in the UK in 2022 spent around 36.4 hours of their week working, which roughly translates to 21.7% of their week, and that is excluding hours of overtime work. 

So, it’s really not a shock that workers want to spend the remaining hours of their lives doing things they enjoy. That said, implementing an inspiring and innovative company culture to help match the modern day employees’ expectations undoubtedly comes down to adopting forward-thinking policies that align with your organisation’s vision. 

In this blog we explore 7 unique workplace policies your company needs to keep employee engagement strong.

1) Offering Referral Bonuses 

According to software and recruiting corporation, Jobvite, referral programmes statistically outperform the hiring of better employees than the typical job application process. Research found that 1-in-7 referrals tend to result in a hire, compared to 1-in-100 general job applications. 

That’s not hard to believe at all, since there’s truly no one that understands a company’s culture and values better than its own employees, who can easily judge whether or not one of their connections would make a good fit. 

Introducing referral programmes, in combination with referral bonuses, can help minimise hiring costs and speed up the overall process, as high performing employees are more likely to refer candidates that display the same qualities as their own.

Not only that, but it also builds a culture of collaboration, where employee opinions and propositions are valued and even rewarded, while encouraging them to seek the best candidates for their company’s job vacancies. 

2) Volunteer Time Off

A team that’s kept inspired and motivated is a productive and engaged team, which is a strong asset to your organisation. Many employers address this by offering paid time off (PTO), specifically aimed towards volunteering, known as Volunteer Time Off (VTO).

Now we know what you’re thinking. Why would any employer pay their employees to be away from their desks and take time off? 

Well, volunteering has become hugely important in many company’s benefits packages and the overall company culture, and makes a positive impact on employees’ personal lives as well. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations found that 30% of those aged 16 and over had volunteered with a group, club or organisation at least once in 2020/2021. 

Encouraging employees to step away from their everyday duties and spend time volunteering for a cause they’re passionate about, without sacrificing their personal time, helps present your organisation in a positive light, with the added benefit of increased employee satisfaction. 

There are many ways to approach VTO and it can be customised to your company’s capabilities. For example, you can allow for  a limited number of days per employee year dedicated as VTO days, while also requesting that employees fill out a VTO form to submit to their supervisor, with reasonable advance notice, to have that time off approved. 

3) Bereavement Leave 

Experiencing mourning and grief is, unfortunately, a part of life and something we all experience at some point or another. But, having to do so, while also expected to show up to work and be productive, can be a tall order. 

Having to go to work after losing a loved one can bring up resentment and anger for employees, leaving them feeling dissatisfied with their work culture. Introducing a bereavement leave policy allows your employees to take the time they need off work to mourn their loss, without the added stress of work obligations. 

Offering that time to recover after such a difficult life event will help them to feel valued and respected, which will in turn will make them a loyal asset to your company in the long-term. Hospice UK found that 56% of employees would actually consider leaving their job if their employer didn’t provide proper support in the event that someone close to them died.

While the length of leave can depend on the employee’s personal circumstance and their relationship with the person they’ve lost, it’s important that the employee feels supported. Even during their return to work, counselling should be provided where needed along with alleviating them of heavy workloads to help make their adjustment easier. 

4) Menstruation Leave 

Ladies, this one’s for you! Painful cramps, sore muscles, nausea and generally just feeling uncomfortable is no fun, and there’s honestly nothing worse than having to spend the day in the office wearing business casual clothes and while popping paracetamol to help get you through the day. 

Periods can be different for every woman since they all experience different levels of pain. Based on a study published by the National Institutes of Health, 95% of women experience pain during menstruation, while professor of reproductive health at UCL, John Guillebaud revealed that research shows period pains can be “as bad as having a heart attack”. 

Earlier this year, Spain became the first country in Europe to offer paid menstrual leave to female employees of up to 3 days, with the right to extend it to 5. While some may argue that many women wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable letting their employer know the reason behind their leave, introducing flexible working can be a good start. 

5) Nap Time Allowance 

Non-for-profit research institute, RAND Europe, found that loss of productivity as a result of poor sleep costs the UK economy an average of £39 billion ($50 billion), which amounts to 2% of its GDP.

It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that a well-rested workforce is also a very productive one. Doctors tend to advise that at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night is the best way for adults to maintain their health and an efficient work ethic. Napping can also help productivity, concentration and overall health, allowing you to catch up on the sleep you might have lost during the night. 

Companies such as Google, Ben & Jerry’s, Facebook, Nike, Procter & Gamble and many more encourage napping in the workplace by providing employees with nap rooms to help increase their productivity and focus. However, make sure this isn’t abused, by setting a cap on the amount of hours an employee can nap in a week, during work hours. 

Sleeping at work? Now that’s a policy we can get behind.

6) Summer Fridays 

Perhaps an effective way to address employee burnout and retention is through Summer Fridays, where employees can benefit from sanctioned half-days or full days off during the warmer months of the year. 

Permanently adopted by PWC, following a successful pilot in 2021, Summer Fridays is a great policy to incorporate in your company’s employee benefits package. They can be effective in combating burnout, increasing productivity and employee satisfaction immensely. 

Based on a 2022 report by PWC, 90% of its staff reported that Summer Fridays had a positive impact, while 73% said it positively impacted their overall wellbeing to a great extent.

7) Pet-friendly workplace

This policy has manifold benefits, for the dog owners themselves, as well as for their co-workers. According to a study published by University of Lincoln, employees who can take their dogs to the office reported 22% higher satisfaction with their working conditions.

While having a pet in the office can potentially increase morale and boost employee productivity, many pets however can become anxious and overwhelmed in new environments with different smells and loads of people. For that, it’s advisable to ensure the company has an insurance plan in place to cover accidents that may be caused by pets.

Not only that, but establishing dog-free spaces and a complaint process can help verify that every employee is comfortable with this new policy in the office. But honestly, who can complain with a cute dog walking around their office looking for belly rubs? 

Overall, regardless of what your company culture and values are, there are many innovative and unique HR policies you can adopt in order to increase employee satisfaction and retention, while also improving productivity.

Just as the way we work evolves over time, to the point where flexible and hybrid working are now the new norm, policies are also evolving, and in today’s people-first workplace, policies should be updated to reflect current expectations. 


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