I have a friend, William, who is an amazing musician and craftsman, and a devoted father. Seriously, the man can play anything and everything, and build anything and everything. But l’ve noticed, over the past couple of years, that he seems to have lost some spark. His job is fine, he says. He likes his job. I think he just need a vacation—or maybe a staycation, a couple weeks for music and kids. But he can’t. Although he has worked for big company for three years, and has been successful in his job, he only has a week of vacation (5 days!) and 3 sick days a year. This is low by national standards, but not by much.
Running a company is hard, and I know all too well the pressures of thin margins. But you know what the great thing about running a company is? You get to decide what’s right, and make it happen. And we think that Paid Time Off is important. At EnergyLogic, every employee, from year one, gets 4 weeks of paid time of every year, plus 8 paid holidays. Our part-time employees accrue PTO at exactly the same rate as our full-time employees—after all, they work just as hard and are just as valuable to us. Our employees use these days to recharge, rest if they are sick, take vacations, care for parents and friends and kids, welcome new babies (or puppies), for bereavement, to play music, build stuff and go hiking. I’m grateful for the energy and skill our employees bring to work. But I don’t want work to be all they do. Like William, everyone at EnergyLogic has a big life full of lots of interests and commitments outside of work—and we want it to stay that way. We have geeky-passionate energy raters and auditors and a kick-ass admin staff. And we also have cowboys and skiers and dog enthusiasts and parents and crazy extreme-sports enthusiasts. We have parents, people working on college degrees, amazing cooks, fishermen, gardeners, biologists and photographers. We like it that way, and we know that living such interesting lives—now, not just when they retire—takes time.
Of course it’s costly. And because we’re a small company, it’s sometimes hard to balance. But our staff values PTO, and works hard to fill in for each other so there are no gaps. I know that I should argue that a month of PTO actually makes our staff more productive, creative and helps with retention. And those things are likely true. But that’s not the reason we do it. We do it because we don’t want them to lose their spark: We do it because it’s right.