Microblogging site Twitter can be an exciting place where some worthwhile conversations start once in a while.
Like it happened when Kunal Shah, Founder and CEO, CRED, tweeted on May 24, 2021 saying, "Breaking big patterns needs the breaking of small patterns and rituals once in a while. Often bigger and complex decisions are easier to do when you force yourself to move to a different location. Just like vacations, a week away every quarter to make important decisions should be normalized."
In response, Ankur Warikoo, entrepreneur, founder of Nearbuy and author of Do Epic Shit, lapped up the idea and wrote, "Someone suggested the concept of summer and summer winter holidays can be brought to the workplace as well. Think 1-2 weeks every 6 months. I loved the idea! Working on it already..." A few weeks later, Warikoo announced, "This is done. Starting next week, the first team member goes on her summer "holiday". Everyone in the team will get 9 days of paid leave (over and above all other leaves) during the months of May/June/July. Not mandatory." He tweeted that the only clause attached is that it has to be claimed as nine days in one go.
Weeks after rolling out the vacay plan for his employees, he returned to Twitter to announce how the first one to avail of this leave had come back beaming with joy and how this break worked wonders for her.
"She is back from her 9-day break. And I have not seen her happier! In our 1:1 she was brimming with joy, and showed all the things she made during the break, how she started working out (which she had been postponing). Plus she now has a comprehensive plan for the year! Awesome!" he tweeted.
The proposed breaks by Warikoo are more than the regular summer hours or summer Fridays. "The benefits of summer vacation shouldn't just be for kids only. Summer breaks were synonymous with trips to beaches, hills, and train visits to relatives in childhood. As adults, summer comprises the same old computer beeps and deep dives into documents. So, it's time for companies to adopt this HR practice advocated by Warikoo and break the 'break bias',” says Upasana Pattanaik, an entrepreneur with a small-sized firm in the Capital. She adds that vacay bodes well both in the long and short run.
Adding reasons, Pattanaik says, "Extreme weathers aren’t very productivity-friendly. I have found that productivity decreases, projects take longer to complete and employees aren’t very focused during these months of the year. The temperature takes a toll on the work tempo. Be it productivity, concentration, and the time taken to complete work all going downhill, it makes sense to give a short, week-long break during these months either to chill, quite literally." A short pause will give employees a chance to resume anew, so why not take the plunge?
Trick may fall flat
Alas, not all business owners, entities or companies can afford to dole out such flexibility to their employees. As Anita Joshi Ray, senior HR professional from Mumbai, adds that the concept of summer/winter break may not work for all even though agreeing that it is a very well thought through and exciting concept which will aid in non-monetary motivation. She reiterates that the sustainability of the proposed "vacay model" depends on the revenue model of the company because there are a lot of issues that an organisation has to keep in mind before taking the plunge. "A lot depends on the company profile. If it is a creative firm (ad agency, digital marketing, PR, etc.) or technology-related firm or startup, this proposition works well without impacting the productivity but for firms which are in BPO/KPO/outsourcing type of work whereby you bill the client on actual work done, the hourly productivity of employees is very important. Giving additional leaves, over and above the stipulated ones, will hamper the overall client deliverables as well as the budgets."
The HR professional adds how bigger firms can afford to keep extra hands on deck to manage work in lieu of vacay absence, while start-ups are using this as a recruitment strategy too to lure talent, but it is the mid-sized firms that may have difficulty adopting the "break plan".
Bengaluru-based senior management level IT professional Aman Ritolia finds no merit in the proposed vacay plan. "I cannot speak for folks in other industries but in Information Technology, I don’t see any value to it. In the post-COVID world, WFH is the norm that has blurred the work-life balance. If mental well-being is the intent behind such a proposal, the right to allow an employee to disconnect from work after the designated work hours as recently legislated in Europe will do more good. A more balanced day is the need of the hour for an employee," he adds.
Making a strong case for the "break plan", Pattanaik has the last word as she adds that a summer/winter break will help reduce stress. She admits that it is difficult to get work done due to the heat or overworking, and an inability to vacation with their kids during this time can leave employees stressed. "In this regard, it’s only wise to take preventative steps to limit stress in your workplace, and who knows, it might increase their productivity too. So give 'em a summer and winter break," she emphasises.