The term “technical employee” typically refers to any employee who spends her days focused on micro-level problem solving rather than business decision making, and includes most employees engaged in design, research and development, software creation, or product inception. A chef in a restaurant is a technical employee, and so are most craftspeople and artisans. Technical employees tend to thrive in an environment that’s conducive to innovation and creativity, and to truly make the most of their skills, business managers are wise to grant them a certain level of artistic and intellectual freedom.
With that in mind, a new trend is beginning to surface among businesses that depend on their technical employees for their survival and growth. Employers are setting aside one day ever year, or every few months, as a Hack Day, a special day in which technical employees can put their company-related projects on hold and work on any side project they choose. Hack Days are designed to encourage innovation and morale by giving technical employees a chance to explore their own interests on company time and with company resources. So far, companies that offer Hack Days have seen surprising benefits in productivity and new idea generation.
Could offering a Hack Day do great things for your business? Possibly. While these free-spirited days can bring great reward to a company, they also come with a certain obvious level of risk and investment. And your company may not be able to fully balance the investment against the potential benefits. If you can answer yes to all of the questions below, try offering your employees a Hack Day and see what happens. If not, wait until your financial footing and your company culture are a little more conducive to the Hack Day spirit.
Should You Implement a Hack Day In Your Workplace?
1. Consider your company culture. Do your managers and technical staff share a strong level of trust? If so, your technical employees are likely to enjoy a day of free innovation without taking advantage and without drawing Hack Day out beyond its 24 hour limit.
2. Are your employees self-driven and self-motivated? If not, Hack Day might lead to some confusion. Reconsider the idea if your employees tend to become restless or frustrated in the absence of clear direction.
3. Are your projects rigidly deadline driven? If can’t afford to let the entire office take a day off, you probably aren’t quite ready for Hack Day. Consider a half-day, or Hack Day Afternoon instead.
If you do decide to offer a Hack Day, approach the process with an open mind and a playful spirit, and make sure you communicate the rules and terms clearly. Then step back and enjoy the results. For more tips on building morale and encouraging innovation, contact the Dallas Fort Worth staffing experts at RPC and arrange a consultation with our team of HR specialists.