One of my most enduring commitments since founding Blueleaf has been to treat my team well. I genuinely get a lot of pleasure from helping and supporting the people who work here and I’ve always believed that whatever the company gives it receives back tenfold. As we grow, there’s a real challenge for me to maintain this culture and ensure it’s not lost. We’ve had the usual winter bouts of nasty bugs and we’ve always been supportive of people needing to take time off ill, but what about when it’s the child of an employee that’s ill? Or the pipes have burst flooding the kitchen, or the car has blown up, or some other crisis? We all live lives away from work and I’ve taken the attitude that if people desperately need time off for some unexpected problem then they should just take it, as long as their workload can be covered.

To make this a little more official, we’ve introduced Shit Happens Days (SHDs). Every team member is entitled to 3 SHDs a year, on top of their annual holiday and sick leave. The idea is that people can take these days to look after their poorly child when they don’t have any other cover, or visit nan in hospital or whatever else crops up. Anyone not using the SHDs receives a bonus at the end of the year.

I can hear the HR professionals’ sharp intake of breath from here and there will no doubt be those amongst you who think that people will take advantage of the SHDs, but I know my team and what’s more I trust them. And that’s what this is all about – trusting your staff is essential if you want to run the kind of business where people actually want to work.