How to Vacay the Right Way
by Alysia Ehle

Nov 14, 2022

How to Vacation the Right Way

I’m going to ask you a cringey question: when was the last time you went on vacation without checking your work email or messages?

Have you ever done that? Or, do you enjoy most of vacation, but work 12-14 hour days catching up on return?

Up until I worked at Arm Candy, both scenarios were me. Even on an international trip, I’d be popping in to “keep up” with happenings, clear out my inbox and chime in on Slack from the sidelines. Without constant check-ins, I was fearful of the workload I’d encounter once I was back. It was a necessary sacrifice to make post-vacation life more bearable.

This, of course, is not exclusive to agencies. It’s perhaps the cultural result of a pursuit toward the American Dream. But today, let’s talk about agency culture, because that’s what we know best. 

Arm Candy was born with the concept of employee’s best interest at heart. After all, our employees are the backbone of our organization. Without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today. In order to live up to one of our values called ‘Find Your Balance’, we’ve implemented the following policies that allow our employees to live their best lives, both inside and outside of the office.

We scrapped unlimited PTO and implemented mandatory PTO

Among the benefits offered to our employees—fully paid health care, 401k with a match, cell phone stipend, and more—is unlimited PTO. The concept of unlimited PTO is ambitious. Giving employees all the time off that they want? It’s incredible. Unbelievable, some might say. 

But while unlimited PTO sounds good in theory, it’s not that great in execution. In chatting with folks on our team about their previous experience with taking vacation off, and even having unlimited PTO policies at other companies, I found most people still didn’t take off more than a standard 10 days a year. And even worse, they felt a stigma around taking that time off. Although previous companies promoted unlimited vacation, they felt guilty taking it, receiving negative reactions from managers and colleagues.

Arm Candy is different, because we don’t just offer unlimited PTO, we mandate it. In fact, our employees are required to take a minimum of 15 days of paid vacation to be eligible to receive bonuses or promotions.

So far this summer, our team has taken two beach vacations, two scuba diving trips to Hawaii, three trips to Greece, two Alaskan cruises and a two-week golf trip to Scotland. That was all before August!

I think it is safe to say that our team is loving being ‘forced’ to go on vacation.

We don’t expect employees to work when they’re out

Probably the toughest part about going on vacation at any company is getting a good coverage plan in place. Regardless of where you are, it’s a fact that the size of the team plays an important factor in how much support your team can provide while you’re out.

That said, we ensure that each employee who takes vacation has a full back-up of all work. That includes actually doing their work when they’re out. The team will chip in on building their media plans, POVs or reports. This ensures our clients feel no drop in support from their team being out, and our employees don’t get heartburn playing catch up when they get back.

Of course, this does put the onus on our employees to be buttoned up before they leave, and put together their extensive notes of what needs to be covered when they’re out. But I’m a believer that this is a welcomed task in their Asana checklist so they can get out and find their balance outside of work.

There are also very few (I won’t say zero) times when contacting an employee when they’re out is necessary. We actually encourage all folks to sign off Slack, remove email from their phones and allow themselves to fully recharge. (That includes our CEO and Founder, John Lods.)

We rolled out a three-year Vacation Bonus

Being the longest employed person at Arm Candy, I was the first to experience our most exciting (and newest) perk yet, a three-year vacation bonus! Once an employee hits their three-year mark, they’ll receive a $5,000 bonus to put towards a week-long vacation.

I personally couldn’t be more grateful for the generous benefits provided by Arm Candy. We always love getting new ideas for how to support our people. What are some of the best benefits you’ve experienced at a company?