So I’m on a train, hustling, banging out emails chatting with clients, you know the usual. But, today we have off. That is a problem.
Execs often build perks in their companies that they actually want people to take, but when YOU don’t take them, it makes people feel nervous about taking them. The more innovative your perks, the more likely people haven’t seen them before. I know it’s weird, but guess what? Its real. I’ve been in my company so long that the concept of a false perk is completely foreign. For a lot of folks that is NOT the case.
When you have days off, or you are working on the weekends and you TRULY don’t want people feeling like “oh the boss emailed me, so I have to respond” you have to send out an email like this:
It signals to your company that you are confirming that you actually want people to take the time off. The higher up you are in the org, the MORE important these emails are. Why?
Because it signals to your execs and managers that they should respect people’s time off / perk usage. It lets people in lower positions of power, say…well the CEO said, or my Director said. It empowers people from interns on up to push back on managers not living the values, it gives them a little cover to say “hey I’m confused, you were working on XYZ day, and expected me to answer but [EXECUTIVE A] send this out.
Remember you have to send these REGULARLY!! In any fast growing company, you are bringing on so many people so fast that you’ll feel like you’ve said it 10,000 times, so say it 10,001. Before you blink 25% of your company wasn’t even here for the last time you emailed that out.
Move your seat
Crystal, our company President leaves often for kid duty, she is not in the office at 4:30 most days, when she is off, she is OFF (usually). That sends a great signal to the company. I also advocate for execs moving their seats regularly so more of the company can see you living it out your perks, if you stay on the same floor, then those people know you live out your perks, but the rest of the company doesn’t see it. Thx hubspot for the tip.
Force other execs to do it
Crystal sat me down and said Wil, you have to pick at least 6 fridays this summer where you leave the office for Seer’s “Summer Hours” she said its important for people to see you take them this year, so I did. I scheduled 6–8 lunch dates with my son at a park near the office. And while many times, I ended up playing with him for 30–60 minutes before he wanted to nap, I GOT OUT, and worked from home instead.
Track low vacation usage offenders
The big “trap” of unlimited vacation is that people don’t take it. Which is why I was so stoked one day when Sayf Sharif our Analytics director build a conditionally formatted sheet that tracks who has been working w/o taking vacation…he even went so far as to say, I expect you to take at least X weeks…so by the end of the month, if you are less than X, you must fill out days you plan on taking off by the end of the year. (He did this after only being in the company for 3 months, it was great to see).
Another important thing to do…make your managers approve a minimum % of vacations, so you don’t have a “perk” that people in lower positions of power feel are false.
2 inconvenient truths about getting a late night email
#1 — I like it. I know its a contradiction, but its the truth.
Being an exec is lonely, working on that proposal, budget, launch in the wee hours, when you know almost everyone else is sleeping is lonely. There are times, when that email comes in late at night or on the weekend that says “Man, this person has got my back, it’s not just me out here.” That feels good sometimes. I know it contradicts much of what I said above, but it feels good sometimes and that is the truth . No one likes to feel alone, no one. Including execs. Sometimes that late night email is just the fuel needed. I’ll figure that out someday, but for now it is a sad truth of how it feels.
#2 I Unapologetically love my work
The last thing I’ll say is I unapologetically love my job. Therefore work on the weekends and nights is often, as weird as this might be for most…fun. The feeling that I’m working while others are sleeping, or balancing work / life in their way is a bit addicting.
I get off on doing the hard shit, others say they want and quit on the path to doing.
If you are one of these people and find yourself working in a company that is saying “hey don’t work on days off” tell your manager! Its ok to say, hey I appreciate it, I really do, but I’m a hustler, and a big girl…so I know when I need a break. That signals to your manager that you are one of us, the rare breeds who get more energy most times off of doing the hard work, and that drive for doing the hard work is important enough to you, that you don’t even think about the weekends as time to recharge, you see it as just another day to slay some shit.
Just don’t expect others to do the same, that isn’t fair, if it goes against the perks you’ve built.
Originally published at wilreynolds.com.