How PayScale is Celebrating ‘Independence Week’

Mandatory time off from work could be one way to avoid holiday burnout.
By: | July 2, 2018 • 2 min read
An out of office sign illustrates mandatory time off from work

Midweek holidays, such as this year’s Independence Day, can pose a challenge for productivity, as workers, and their employers, grapple with a day off interrupting the momentum of the work week. So instead of one day off, how about a full week?

That’s the solution that PayScale, a provider of cloud-compensation services, decided on for this Fourth of July. The company instituted “Independence Week,” five mandated paid days off for its 450 employees across the country. PayScale already offers unlimited PTO, and the additional mandatory time off from work is another effort to “help employees live full and balanced lives,” said company CEO Mike Metzger.

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“This collective week off felt like a natural next step for us in ensuring that employees have an opportunity to fully disconnect from work and reconnect with family, friends and the activities that help them recharge,” Metzger said.

To that end, employees were encouraged ahead of the week off to share their plans for how they’ll spend their vacation, using the hashtag #PSIndependenceWeek2018 on social media. A quick search brings up photos of workers grilling, playing video games, on trips to Las Vegas and Walt Disney World or just relaxing at home with family. Fully shutting down operations for a week took some planning, but Stacey Klimek, vice president of people at PayScale, said she thinks the effort “will pay off significantly in better employee engagement, long-term retention, renewed creativity and even better customer focus.”

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PayScale isn’t the only company trying a creative workaround to avoid holiday burnout: Smirnoff ran a contest offering $500 to cover two days off for 100 social media users (at any companies) who wrote about what they would do on the two days after the holiday if they didn’t have to work.

Building in a longer holiday may seem even more attractive when you consider many employees are likely planning to use their own PTO throughout the week anyway. For instance, a recent survey of 350 professionals by Captivate found that more than half of respondents will take at least one day off before or after July 4, with most (63 percent) of those choosing the day after the holiday. About a fifth of managers reported being frustrated with multiple PTO requests, while nearly a quarter of millennial employees said they were resentful of not being given added time off around the midweek holiday. Of those who plan to report to work July 5, nearly 20 percent anticipate being “extra tired,” a number that was higher among millennials.

With the effect of vacation on productivity coming into sharper focus, mandatory time off from work may be a viable option for employers looking to get the most of out their workers in the long run—and to give them something to celebrate in the meantime.

Jen Colletta is managing editor at HRE. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees in writing from La Salle University in Philadelphia and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining HRE. She can be reached at hreletters@lrp.com.

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