Procurement consultancy Caliba introduces unlimited paid leave

23 August 2022 3 min. read

Brisbane-based procurement consultancy Caliba Group has introduced unlimited paid leave for all staff, in what is a pioneering move in Australia’s consulting scene. 

Founded in 2011, Caliba Group helps clients in the heavy industry and healthcare segments with optimising their procurement spending and operations. Since its inception, the now near 20-strong firm has according to its own records addressed over $5.2 billion in client spend, and helped deliver over $700 million in procurement-driven cost reductions.

With people at the heart of its advisory and delivery services, the firm’s two partners – Daniel Williams (ex-EY) and Jim Cowan (ex-Anglo American) – have taken a bold step to allow all employees to take unlimited paid, while enjoying continued salary payments.

Daniel Williams, Jim Cowan and Felix Kong - Caliba

“This reinforces our commitment to be a ‘people not policy-driven company’,” said Williams.

Felix Kong, a principal at Caliba Group, commented: “We wanted to respond to what our team was telling us matters to them and acknowledge that life in the second decade of the 21st century is very different to when a lot of standard corporate policies were written.”

“There are so many types of leave now, some of them legislated (Caliba Group for instance already offered three months of paid parental leave) and some of them just good business practice. “We believe it should be easy and comfortable for people to take leave when they need it, for however long they need it, and for whatever reason, if it means they return to work refreshed and recovered, physically and mentally.” 

Offering unlimited paid leave however also comes with its risks, and is therefore still a rarity in the world of consulting – an industry that struggles with absorbing highly flexible leave policies as it makes firms’ staffing puzzle more complex. Meanwhile, with the sector facing a talent crunch, consultancies are hesitant to let their employees go at a time when meeting market demand is the need of the hour.

At Caliba Group, the firm’s close-knit culture means that the leadership team trusts the leave decisions taken by project managers and staff, said Kong.

Trust for the better

“Our clients trust us to deliver what we promise, and that means doing what we can to keep our people on top of their game. We trust our project managers to recognise when a team member needs a break, and we fully trust our people to be fair and responsible with making use of the new leave arrangement.” 

Facing a growing portfolio (procurement is currently one of consulting’s most in-demand segments), Caliba Group also expects the move to beef up its appeal to potential recruits. With research showing that work-life balance is an increasingly important factor of job satisfaction, “increased flexibility around working conditions is one way how we can support existing teams and attract new staff,” concluded Kong.

Unlimited paid time off

Among the most known consulting firms that offer unlimited paid leave are EY and Guidehouse, although their policies apply only to the US market (where the scheme is known as unlimited paid time off). Both firms however face criticism for the fact that key metrics such as sales targets and utilisation rates are not adjusted to reflect time off.