Why giving employees time off is a good thing – and how we manage it over the holiday season
Published 2015-12-18, updated 2023-03-21
Summary - We’ve always fostered a work culture that values balance. Work hard, and then go home and think about something else. Because we’ve grown, it’s no longer possible for us to shut down completely between Christmas and New Year’s. But we’ve found a way to scale back our operations in a way that gives every employee time to relax and get their mind working at a different cadence.
It has always been a tradition at Klipfolio to give our employees the whole week off between Christmas and New Year’s.
Our recent growth has meant we’ve had to adapt to a new reality. We no longer shut down completely like we used to. But we have managed to make that adjustment without sacrificing one of the core elements of our work culture, which is recognizing balance and the value in time off.
Before we put our services up in the cloud, it was easy to shut down over the Holidays. We’d close up shop on Dec. 24 and reopen on Jan. 2, and everyone would get the time off. These were bonus days, above and beyond regular vacation days.
But we’re too big to shut down completely now. We’re a cloud company with over 4,000 customers, some of whom – hospitals, for example – don’t ever close. I don’t think there’s a single second that ever goes by without someone, somewhere, being on our servers.
Two years ago, we decided we needed to keep the office open over the Holidays.
But we also decided we would not run full-tilt. Instead, we developed a formula for a skeleton staff that involved people rotating through for one day over the holiday; we also created an escalation call list so that if there was an unusual problem, extra people could be called in as needed.
The system works well.
Our customers are less active at this time of year, and there are generally fewer people contacting us for support. We do also tell customers we’re scaling down our operations for the Holidays. I think it makes our relations with our customers more human.
Those staff members on the holiday rotation, take their time off in the new year.
That’s important to us.
There are some companies where a frantic work pace is part of the culture. People boast about being double-booked for meetings, and answering an email in the middle of the night is a badge of honour.
Our approach is, I think, a little more balanced. We’ve always had a culture where, when we’re in the office, we work hard. But when it’s time to go home at the end of the day, or take time off for Christmas or for holidays, we take the time off.
I think the time off makes for better employees.
Does answering an email at midnight make someone more effective? I don’t think so. Working harder doesn’t mean you are working smarter. If you’re running around all the time, you are probably in reactive mode. You don’t have time to reflect.
We want to have employees who are thinking about things properly and who are very motivated, but who are not in pure reactive mode.
So we want people to take their vacation without feeling guilty for doing it.
The time off allows everyone the chance to change gears and think about different things. When you do that, your mind is operating at a different cadence – and that gives your mind some time to rejuvenate. Think about how you feel halfway into a vacation, when you’ve finally had time to unwind.
The benefits of time off go beyond staff morale and make for better mental health too.
The year is coming to a close. We think it’s good to make it feel like it’s coming to a close, and spend some days at home.
So we’re celebrating a good year and encouraging everyone to take some time to relax.
Allan Wille is a Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Klipfolio. He’s also a designer, a cyclist, a father and a resolute optimist.