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For a lot of us around the world, the end of December is a time to take some time off and be with the family, to rest and get ready for a new year. This got me thinking about something I’ve noticed in my almost 20 years in tech: a lot of leaders look at PTO (Paid Time Off) as a cost to their company and their teams.
It’s my believe that all of these leaders are wrong. Taking PTO (and actively encouraging others to take PTO too) is one of the smartest things you can do as a leader. And it’s an amazing investment for you as a company.
Let me explain it with a meme :
Or with some actual context:
Well rested employees are more productive and more focussed.
Having people regularly take time off strengthens your team’s understanding of what everyone else in the team is doing as they will regularly need to take over when people are on PTO.
This will force everyone to document their work so it’s easy for a coworker to take over when they’re on PTO. So they won’t return to a mountain of work.
Team members will feel supported and cared for by their leaders and the company. This in turn will create a positive feedback loop of support towards each other and the customers.
Hours in seat does now qualify as a good metric for work in a highly creative job.
People need half a week to fully disengage from work, so give them enough consecutive days to actually be able to relax.
My tips for any leader (wether you’re leading a single person or company the size of Meta):
Lead by example and take time off yourself. Nobody should be irreplaceable.
Have everyone take off at least one week per quarter, and at least 2 consecutive weeks per year once.
Celebrate people when they come back, let them know you’ve missed them and that you’re interested to hear their stories.
Strengthen your documentation and project management expertise to help your people take time off without having to worry about the mountain of work waiting for them when they get back.
Set team goals instead of individual goals, it will give people incentives to help each other.
Do this and you will see:
More passionated and engaged employees.
Higher retention rate.
More people in your hiring pipeline, everyone wants to work at a company that appreciates them.
Higher customer satisfaction, because happier employees equals better customer service.
Higher team performance and productivity, because happy and well rested people get more done.
Thus: PTO is not a cost, it’s an investment. In your people, your customers, and your company.
On that note: I’ll be taking the next 2 weeks off to enjoy the holidays with my family. I would highly encourage you to do the same and book some time off to relax and refocus. What’s stopping you?
P.S.: Feel free to post vacation tips, pictures, or stories in the comments. I’m always looking for inspiration.
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