During the first week of July, my employees were especially productive: One moved into new home. Another celebrated a child’s second birthday. A third member of the team drove 2,000 miles. And one even got married.
But not one of them did any work. At our company, the entire organization shuts down for the week of July 4th. And we close again for the week between Christmas and New Year’s.
Why? Because my team members work hard, and despite having an unlimited PTO policy, the possibility remains that they could burn out. This goes for all employees. In fact, an April TSheets survey of 400 U.S. employees found that one in three of those polled indicated they would be happier if they were given more paid time off.
No surprise there. Yet, surprisingly, 70 percent of those same employees didn’t actually use all their PTO.
This is why, to ensure that my own employees enjoy both their summer and winter holidays, I close the company. That way, they can spend the time however they want and come back to work feeling refreshed and appreciated.
Each season offers unique ways to give employees a benefit they’ll love. Here are a few to consider:
Aside from the nice weather, spring offers several underappreciated holidays — Earth Day, for example. At TerraCycle, a recycling company in Trenton, New Jersey, the team gets together and works in the company courtyard. They play games and party, while cleaning up.
“Our ‘car-den,’ a drop-top convertible Cadillac that’s been converted into a garden with fresh mint, gets a good weeding,” Veronica Rajadnya, a publicist for TerraCycle, told me via email.
Although rather less exciting, tax season is also in the spring. To make this part of the year more bearable for employees, Apartment List, an apartment-listing website based in San Francisco, declares March as Financial Wellness Month. “We equip our employees with expert knowledge on the home-buying process, credit worthiness, savings, stocks and 401(K) investment,” said Lauren Burris, director of people. “Because of these wellness events, we’ve seen a 7 percent increase in employees feeling engaged and cared for.”
Summertime is when people like to get away. They plan family vacations or relaxing trips to the beach. Many companies are also finding that summer is the perfect time for fun, team-building excursions.
At Experticity, an influencer-marketing company based in Salt Lake City, all 240 employees and their families go to a rented campground in Moab, Utah. They hike, bike and have fun for an entire weekend.
“Our CEO hosts a potluck dinner at his home, and general fun times ensue,” reported Connor Jones, senior manager of public relations, via email. “It’s a really cool experience to have a CEO who wants to spend time and learn more about his employees in a non-work environment.”
As people on the East Coast know, summer is also hurricane season. PostcardMania, a postcard marketing company in Clearwater, Fla., found a unique benefit to offer employees during these months. “In the unlucky occasion that a tropical storm or hurricane is threatening our shores, schools in the area will close on pretty short notice,” Joy Gendusa, founder and CEO, said via email. “So, during hurricane season, we have babysitters on hand at headquarters for storm days.”
The company turns the first floor of its office into a kid-friendly zone. This gives parents peace of mind that their children are safe and happy, so that they, the adults, can stay productive.
For kids, fall typically signals a fresh start, a new school year. And the same goes for employees at The Thomas Collective, a full-service marketing communications firm headquartered in New York. Every fall, the entire team goes on a 48-hour study trip. Only, the studies they focus on are fun topics.
“The agency has studied wine in Paris, historic travel in Rome, design in Copenhagen, eco-travel in Honduras, wellness in Iceland, ‘glamping’ in the U.S. Virgin Islands, adventure in Ecuador and political travel in Moscow,” said Michal Rose, account supervisor, in an email.
While the trips can be tiring, they excite the team members and bring them together. They also help foster and maintain the company’s innovative and collaborative spirit.
Fall, moreover, brings with it a number of fun holidays, like Halloween. Having parties or allowing employees to dress up is a great opportunity to let the team have some fun. At Perfect Search Media, a digital marketing agency based in Chicago, employees say they look forward to Halloween months in advane.
“Everyone dresses up and we have prizes for the best costume, most creative costume and funniest costume. It’s a tradition that we all go out together for lunch, dressed up, in downtown Chicago,” HR manager Rachel Lehn said in an email. “Since the day we dress up usually isn’t on Halloween itself, we tend to get lots of strange looks.”
People have a love/hate relationship with winter. For some, the cold weather is a lot to bear, and it negatively impacts their moods. This is why Bonanza, an online marketplace based in Seattle, moves its entire office to someplace tropical during the month of February.
And in order to ensure that employees and their families enjoy the trip, staffers receive bonuses and extra PTO days to spend while traveling.
“It started when the company was very small — three people. My CTO’s wife and I were discussing how depressing Seattle is from November through May,” CEO Bill Harding said in an email. “We picked February because that’s kind of the breaking point for dealing with a Seattle winter. By that point, you haven’t seen sunlight in about four months, and it’s dark before you leave work.”
Harding added that the break allows employees to recharge and refocus. It’s also a rather powerful recruiting tool.
“I trust that treating our employees and customers well will serve Bonanza’s long-term interests,” Harding said. “And so far it has.”