Monday, December 4, 2023

Dunedin hobby shop offers unlimited leave, sick days

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A hobby shop that offers staff unlimited holidays and sick leave is proving popular with job applicants and is looking to expand its stores around the country.

Hobby Lords deals in trading cards, board and other games and at the weekend moved into a revamped Dunedin store, where it has 10 employees.

But it is eying prospects around the country.

Hobby Lords managing director Liam O’Neill said no one had yet abused the unlimited annual leave.

“It’s something we started wanting to do and then we trialled it and then we made it permanent.”

Staff are given annual leave as soon as they started working at the shop which was “a bit of a faith-based gesture”, he said.

“It acts very much like it currently like it currently does … with the way that leave works currently, they still accrue leave like they normally would in case they do leave, we still adhere to all the rules and regulations around that. It’s just we don’t penalise them if they go into negatives – if they want to take lots of leave we’re not going to tell them ‘no you can’t do that’.

“The main thing for us is we want to make sure our staff are happy, staff are looked after because it does come across in their mannerisms and the way they kind of treat customers because customers do see the difference and it’s mentioned every day we’re open.”

Staff who quit and had a negative leave balance did not have to pay it back and it was the shop’s “gift to them”, O’Neill said.

“We’re not going to try and claw it back at the end of the day because the annual leave and the sick leave, it’s all unlimited and it’s all paid.”

Staff also got paid at least the living wage rate, he said.

The store wanted to be very tech focused and to find a way not to have to raise prices, he said.

The business was still profitable and did so by avoiding relying on outside suppliers or needs which ate into profit margins, O’Neill said.

“By focusing on that one thing we’ve actually managed to be very profitable, even in contrast to doing all that.”

Asked what the biggest chunk of leave was that a staff member had taken, O’Neill said about three and a half weeks.

The hobby area was difficult to train staff in and providing these conditions helped to retain them, he said.

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