We aren’t talking about two weeks paid vacation. What about the first day of school? DragonCon? Or Black Friday? There are days that aren’t “traditional” that are equally as important to your team!

Untraditional Time Off | Episode 90

Speaker 1: Welcome to the Epic Company Culture Podcast, where your host Josh Sweeney will give you, the business leaders, HR professionals and company culture aficionados, the knowledge you need to take your company culture to the next level.

Josh Sweeney: Hello and welcome the Epic Company Culture Podcast. My name is Josh Sweeney and you are listening to season three all about employee retention. I am joined here by my co-host Crystal Sweeney.

Crystal Sweeney: Hello everybody.

Josh Sweeney: Hello thanks for joining us. So before I get started we’d like to thank Prototype Prime for this amazing podcast space.

Unlimited Time Off Policy

The topic of this episode is time off. We’re not gonna talk about time off in the normal sense around like should you be giving one week or two week or should it be the unlimited time off policy. What we’re really looking at is, what are some of those different time off challenges that we have as employees, as managers, as people in the real world.

So get us started Crystal with a little bit about you know some the different ways we seen time off come about and things that we need to get involved in in regular life.

Employee Important

Crystal Sweeney: Yeah I think this definitely goes beyond your traditional paid holidays and things like that. What we’re talking about is days that may be important to an employee that may not be important to everybody.


I want to use Halloween for example. Halloween is tomorrow and I know this podcast is gonna come out way later, but people with kids, you know Halloween is an important day because there’s a lot of preparation, there’s costumes to get together. The kids are super excited.

Josh Sweeney: Candy.

Crystal Sweeney: And candy of course. So for somebody who has kids, if they’re sitting at the office until five or six o’clock in the evening, you know you’re getting into that trick or treat time. Where as you know somebody who may not have any, you know they may not have kids and they may not have plans to do anything, they may not even be thinking about it.

So really this is about being aware of the different employee home life situations and things that you could do, days off that you can give that’s meaningful.

Josh Sweeney: So I know you said they may not be doing anything because they don’t have kids, but I think you might have forgot that people without kids actually do get dressed up and go to parties. You might not remember that, it’s been a while.

Crystal Sweeney: They do. Yeah okay you got me.

Josh Sweeney: We’ve had ours for so long you forgot how that works. Right?

Crystal Sweeney: There’s adult costume parties? What? [crosstalk 00:02:39] well I’m not saying they don’t do anything, I’m just you know if it’s a like…

Josh Sweeney: So everybody wants to get off early and go get ready for the party. Kids, no kids.

Crystal Sweeney: Sure. Okay message of the story, just close your business on Halloween. Just be done. No just kidding.

Josh Sweeney: You’re done. Close shop.

Unproductive Days After

Crystal Sweeney: Yeah. So the point being is there are things that situational from employee to employee, but there are other days that they may like to have off that aren’t a national holiday or you know just a well known holiday. You know one that really speaks to me and I’ve never understood other than retail businesses, I possibly get it although I’m a little conflicted there. But is those unproductive days like the day after Thanksgiving.

How productive are your employees coming in after Turkey day?

Josh Sweeney: Yeah on like a Friday.

Crystal Sweeney: On a Friday.

Josh Sweeney: In between the weekend.  Yeah pretty unproductive.

Crystal Sweeney: Right. So giving your employees that Friday off so they have Thursday all the way through Sunday to have a four day weekend, they’re gonna come back rested. They’re gonna be completely happy and satisfied. Take the break that they need. And you’re not wasting their time and your time as well by making everybody be there and building that resentment.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah definitely. I mean Black Friday is one of those days that are just pretty much lost. I think a lot of people take it off. And you know just deduct it from the time off that they have.

So what are some other just non-traditional holidays right? We’re not talkng about the general holidays that we always observe. What are the other things that come up in life?

Important Kids Days

Crystal Sweeney: So I want to go back to kids because apparently that’s what I know. There’s big things that happen in the schools that you may want to be a part of. The first day of school, you know taking your kids and dropping them off that first day. Field days at the end of the year. You know they always ask for volunteers and parents to come be there all day on a field day. And those may be difficult for your employees to come and ask for because you know it’s not a traditional holiday. And you know it’s they would just want to be, spend time with their kids while they’re out playing and doing games and things like that.

You know the kids are asking them, “Hey Mom or Dad. Can you come to my field day?” And it’s like, well I don’t have enough time off and that’s what you’re trying to avoid. You know you’re trying to give them those, give them a little bit of freedom to be with their family as well as at work.


Anniversaries. You know some people work through their anniversary and you won’t know. And also birthdays. We know most people do a good job of celebrating an employee’s birthday, but you know give them the day off. That’s just, everybody needs that.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah I mean there’s definitely lots of ways that this comes up on needing different days off and times off. I can’t remember, or I guess I can remember all the different birthdays where it’s like, “Yeah my birthday’s on Wednesday but you know what am I gonna do Wednesday while everybody’s at work. I’ll just go to work. We’ll go party that night or you know go have an event that evening or push it to the weekend or something like that.”

Crystal Sweeney: Or you could sit on the couch in your pajamas. If you didn’t have to work. I mean and binge watch something.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah Netflix.

Crystal Sweeney: Or for you not.

Josh Sweeney: Not for me.

Remote Employees

Crystal Sweeney: Okay. So but also you know we have some remote employees. What are their holidays? Their holidays are completely different. They may be on a completely different schedule than us and knowing what that is, and being able to say, “Oh it’s one of your national holidays or it’s something that you guys have going on.”

I mean that’s gonna make you a more valuable employer.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah and I think some of the things we see that cause a conflict in company culture is the balance of the number of days off that are provided with all of these other factors in. Right? So if you look at it traditionally, somebody with more experience, somebody in a management role, somebody in these different roles, is generally given more approved time off right out of the gate. And then other people have less time. Right? So one may start off with two weeks, one may start off with four weeks.


And I think there’s a lot of challenges in that, in that it can create some resentment. It can create certain situations where if a manager is always able to get out let’s say for field days, birthdays, anniversary. You know they know that these days are being taken out of the office, but that a front line person doing a lot of the customer facing work, has a lot less of those and is not able to be with their kids or with a spouse on their birthday or whatever it might be.

You know that can cause some resentment. That can cause some challenges. And the smaller the environment, the more aware I generally find that everybody is of who is and isn’t out of the office for what reason.

So a lot of challenges come in to how the approved work time is divied up, what the holidays are, you know how that looks. So I think those are some other items to think about is what does that look like from a employee perspective when they can’t be there for an event, but a manager can just for the fact that they’re a manager maybe.

I know it’s a lot harder if like a manager was hired after them and things like that.

Unexpected Needs

Crystal Sweeney: Well and I feel like I’ve been in situation where we took a family vacation early in the year and then you know as always happens, somebody needs a cavity filled or somebody needs, they need to have a physical done or it was like I had doctor visits that I need to schedule and dentist visits that I needed to schedule. And you know I found myself putting them off simply because I only had five days left to get me through the rest of the year.

And so it actually as a mom, it was like I was choosing my work over my kids. But I kind of felt kind of stuck in that. So it’s just being, it’s just having that freedom to be able to communicate with your managers and say, “You know this is really important to me.”

And for them to understand that if it’s that important to your employees, they’re gonna definitely appreciate the time that you give them.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah definitely.

What’s Your Policy?

So in closing, think about what you are doing from a time off perspective. What are the traditional time off that you allow? What are the non-traditional ways that you allow time off? How does that factor into your company culture? And how you’re looking at your employee retention strategy.

Thank you.


Speaker 1: Thank you for tuning in to today’s episode of the Epic Company Culture Podcast with Josh Sweeney. If you enjoyed this content, please subscribe on iTunes, Sound Cloud or Stitcher. For additional content and transcripts, visit epicculture.co.

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