Americans need more holidays, says Richard Branson

2011

A big thumbs up to serial entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, founder and chairman of the Virgin Group, who thinks that the pitiful amount of holiday American workers are given "stinks" and believes American business need to be much more open to workforce flexibility.

"The amount of holidays people are given in America stinks. I think that all companies should rethink it and give people decent holidays. And if it's not going to work financially then let them go on unpaid leave," said Branson in a live open interview in the opening session of the SHRM Annual Conference and Exhibition in Las Vegas.

"People would rather have slightly less money and decent holidays to spend time with their children and to reenergize. People would rather live than be a cog in a machine."

He also said that American companies don't seem to understand the concept of workforce flexibility.

"Flexibility is critical and I think US companies are particularly bad at it. And I'm not saying that Virgin is a great example of it."

However, there are a lot of people working for companies in the US that are either full-time or not working at all. But if you ask your workforce, you'll find that many would love more flexibility, maybe to go part-time or job share, or go off for six months unpaid leave. But they are frightened to ask."

Branson also told the conference that the wrong leadership can quickly destroy a company.

"To keep staff engaged you need the right kind of people running the companies and if they are the kind of people who lavish praise on people, inspire them, listen and who get out from behind their desks and take notes and act on those notes then you can create a great company. If you have a bad chief executive or manager can destroy the spirit of a company incredibly quickly.

"The chairman of the company and HR people must push that person out of the company before they destroy it or push the HR person out."