10 Reasons you need a FedEx Day

employee ideas schemeThere’s a fascinating idea out there that is spreading across industries and organisations that contributes to employee motivation.

It’s called a ‘FedEx Day.’

Despite the name, it was started by an Australian company called Atlassian, a software company.

Once a quarter on Thursday afternoons, Atlassian say to their software developers,

“Go and work on anything you want for the next 24 hours. Do it the way you want, do whatever you want, do it with whoever you want. The only thing we ask is that you show whatever it is you have created to the rest of the company on Friday afternoon.”

They call these FedEx Days because you have to deliver something overnight, like the parcel delivery company.

It turns out that this one day of autonomy has lead to fixes for existing software, ideas for new products, and improvements to internal processes that would otherwise never emerge.

This is about giving people the freedom and autonomy to be creative, and is a very different approach to motivation to the traditional carrot and stick approach.  It can be very energising to see what creative people can do in 24 hours if they don’t have the constraints of their day-to-day jobs to think about.

It can also be very inspiring for the employees who feel trusted by their employer. That’s because what their employer is saying is, “We hire good people, good people want to do good things, maybe one way to help good people do good things is to get out of their way for a day.”

The idea of a FedEx Day is spreading, not just to other software companies but to other industries such as consumer products and services companies, HR and marketing departments and even some schools!


10 Reasons you need a FedEx Day

  1. They can lead to immediate value
  2. They can solve problems and create new features that would otherwise never emerge
  3. They give everyone a voice
  4. They improve processes
  5. They boost innovation and creativity
  6. They foster collaboration and teamwork
  7. They are highly motivating
  8. They help share best practices between teams
  9. They are opportunities to learn
  10. They are great fun!

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Starting your own FedEx Day

employee ideasYou could give your employees free reign to work on any project they like, but if you need to constrain it a bit, you could frame a question for your employees or team.

This question could be based on a challenge your business or department is currently facing, or it could be more generic such as;


“What’s one way we can do things differently around here?”


“What’s one HR technique that we aren’t doing but that we should be doing?”

Frame the question, give employees time to work on their ideas, and then have them meet the whole company or department and do a short presentation on their idea.

When it comes to the presentation, have a welcoming environment and make sure that every idea is applauded. It’s also important to remember not to take the meeting too seriously, perhaps include some food and an applause-o-meter. You can then evaluate the ideas later on and provide feedback directly to your employees.

With a FedEx Day it’s almost guaranteed that you will get some bad ideas, but equally, you could also get some brilliant ones. A FedEx Day could be the source of your next big breakthrough.

So what are you waiting for? Go and organise your first FedEx Day and you’ll see some really great results.


John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.
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