The Week: Best of the blogs - BBH plan is inspired

Undoubtedly the best idea to come from an ad agency this month is Bartle Bogle Hegarty's decision to allow staff to vote on a 3.5 per cent voluntary pay cut - in the shape of a day's unpaid leave every month.

I can't understand why this isn't more common. For a start, it isn't quite accurate to describe this as a pay cut at all. A pay cut would involve less money for the same amount of work. Here, staff are being offered the chance to trade a 3.5 per cent cut in pay for a near 50 per cent increase in their holiday allowance.

In a recession, the trade-off makes especially good sense. For one thing, this is a disproportionately bad time to lose your job. But it is also a disproportionately good time to keep your job. Prices are falling, and mortgage costs are probably low enough to offset the loss in pay for many people.

It is far cheaper for an agency to engage in this arrangement than to lose or hire people every time the climate changes. In fact, given that advertising is becoming a slightly seasonal business, it's possible future agency contracts should allow for flexibility of employment as a matter of course.

It isn't clear that BBH will be much worse off for everyone's one-day absence. One of the fabulous things about this business is that you can become better at your job by doing just about anything. Actuaries or lawyers don't become better at their jobs by reading a novel, listening to a conversation on a bus, watching a film, going to an exhibition or sitting in a park. We do.


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