2020 changed working

It’s as important as ever for workplaces to take care of their people. The experience of a global pandemic is making workers across all industries ask important questions of themselves and their employers. Questions like: What are my passions? What do I need from my place of work? Am I working from home, or living at work? What should I expect from all these new ways of working?

It’s estimated that between 26% and 40% of people are planning to leave their current job by 2022. Additionally, the tech industry will be one of the most affected by The Great Resignation, with experts citing burnout and lack of flexibility as the main reasons

The pandemic completely changed the competitiveness around recruiting and retaining talent. Flexible work options are now giving HR professionals the opportunity to offer benefits and options that are truly meaningful. A “full snack bar” isn’t what’s going to draw the most talented people because the days of companies competing over who can offer the most tiny perks are over. Now it’s about giving people the ability to watch their children while they work, or to have peace of mind about not wanting to take public transit. The goalposts have changed. 

A graphic featuring a three step system to understanding how to help employees combat burnout

Fighting back against burnout

Our job as people operations professionals isn’t to overthink why the pandemic accelerated this trend. That seems kind of obvious. Our job is to provide solutions so that employees coming into work (or logging into work) feel supported and can have experiences that align with their passions and needs.  

If you’re trying to prevent employee burnout, you have to take action. And you have to talk about it openly. 

Our employees have had unlimited PTO since Rhino was founded. We wrote our time-off policy this way as part of a larger examination of what makes a high performing, hard-working team. We thought giving our folks the ability to prioritize their time in a more flexible way would make them feel like they had autonomy over their lives and their work. Want to take a vacation? Take one. Need a mental health day? It’s all yours.

It didn’t work that well. 

We realized that our people weren’t even using their unlimited PTO. The average Rhino employee was taking less than two weeks of vacation per year. 

Understanding why our people weren’t taking time off

We set out to get to the bottom of why our team wasn’t using their unlimited PTO. This is what we realized:

  • We weren’t messaging our employee benefits and perks nearly as much as we should have been 

  • Transitioning to WFH changed how employees everywhere think about vacation and time off

  • We’ve built a team that works extremely hard and sometimes forgets to take a pause

  • We should’ve done better reassuring our team that we wouldn’t be invasive about asking for the reason for PTO or set secret limits as to what’s “too much PTO.” These stigmas around companies that offer unlimited PTO are real and need to be addressed openly.

The reason that employee burnout can be so tough to address is because the conditions that create burnout make it difficult to see and activate solutions. If your job is exhausting you, you’re probably too exhausted to go and find the solution to that exhaustion. That responsibility should be shared. People teams find resources, tools, training, coaching...whatever it takes, then deliver them to employees and their managers so they can make the most of them.

After you find the solution, the next step is creating visibility and access to that solution. 

So we decided to raffle off $1,000 in vacation reimbursement three times over three weeks at our all-company meeting. In the beginning of May, we told the team that everyone who submitted their plans for PTO would be automatically entered into a raffle to put toward their vacation. 

This created a buzz around the company and made employees pause and think about their own experience taking time off. Regardless of if they won, they’d started planning for a much-needed break, which means everyone got something even if they weren’t the lucky person chosen by the random number generator. 

We were able to show our people that we care in a small way while getting the message across that there are readily available tools, resources and support to help prevent burnout.

When you put people first, they stick around. That’s what we’re in it for.

A headshot of Juls Fleury, VP of People Operations at Rhino
Juls Fleury

Juls Fleury is the VP of People Operations at Rhino. She's passionate about creating inclusive environments and bringing the best out of employees every single day. She knows that creating solutions for renters starts with the well-being of the team doing the work, and she wishes she could scare security deposits away with garlic like a vampire.