The Martin Agency broadens their holiday schedule, hoping to reduce burnout

The agency is creating more three-day weekends with holidays like “March Madness” and “August Adventure.”
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Curb Your Enthusiasm/HBO via Giphy

· 4 min read

There are times during the year when it can feel like a stretch to get to the next long weekend. Like the time between Presidents’ Day and Memorial Day that we’re currently in. (If you didn’t have Presidents’ Day off, our thoughts are with you.)

To address this problem in today’s era of burnout and resignations, some agencies have been offering employees more paid time off, among other perks. The Martin Agency is one of the latest to amend their time-off policies, adding holidays to the company calendar to ensure that employees receive a three-day weekend at least once a month.

Take the day

According to the agency’s holiday schedule, employees have Fridays off labeled “March Madness,” “Spring Break” in April, and “August Adventure,” in addition to federal holidays like Veterans Day, Juneteenth, and Labor Day.

In the last two years, Carmina Drummond, chief culture officer at the Martin Agency, said the company moved to unlimited PTO; however, she’s noticed employees continue to work even when they’re technically out. “I think people say they take vacation, but I don’t know anybody that really truly disconnects, and we need to learn it’s a discipline to do that,” she said.

It’s part of the reason why the Martin Agency chose to add more company-wide holidays. The initial plan was to allow employees to choose a three-day weekend in April and August, but based on the success of a company-wide mental health day early in the pandemic, they found it was easier on employees and clients to close the agency completely.

“We got a lot of positive feedback from [employees] saying, ‘Wow, it was wonderful because the whole agency was closed,” Drummond said, which relieved pressure to work while out of the office.

A 2019 LinkedIn survey found that nearly 60% of American workers check in with bosses and coworkers at least once a day while on vacation. On top of that, people with unlimited PTO tend to work more in general. According to a study by HR software company Namely, those with unlimited PTO take fewer days off than those with a set number of days, in part because “they don’t know where to draw the line between acceptable and excessive.”

Drummond said top-down pressure also factored into why people weren’t taking time off. When they asked, employees would say, “‘Well, because leadership is still on.’ And then leadership’s managers are still on, and so we’re like, ‘Okay, we need to lead by example,’” she said.

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In addition to adding required holidays to help remove employee pressures, Drummond said they’re also implementing an “R&R” policy in which managers and department leads are trained to make sure their teams are fully disconnecting when they’re taking time off, i.e., not intermittently checking in or answering emails, for at least a week or two each year.

Long weekends every weekend?

Despite moving to more three-day weekends, Drummond isn’t keen on making the work week permanently shorter. “The four-day work week is about when I’m working, right? The three-day weekend is about, ‘Okay, I’m taking time off.’ And that’s kind of the mentality that we want,” she said.

In addition to newer policies, Drummond pointed to the agency’s two-week winter break and summer Fridays, which run from Memorial Day to Labor Day and allow employees to sign off at 2 pm, as examples of sufficient time off. She also thinks that shortening the work week could create less schedule flexibility among teams.

Chase Maszle, digital producer at the Martin Agency, is more bullish on the four-day work week. When he posted about the Martin Agency’s new holiday offerings on LinkedIn, he said someone commented that “positioning this whole thing as a three-day weekend policy is a much better way of saying four-day work week.”

To an extent, he agrees: “I personally believe that a four-day work week is in the future. You know, it’s a model that’s common in other parts of the world. And I think that all companies are looking to non-traditional benefits to attract the best talent and keep them.”

Aound 92% of Americans say they support moving to four days, according to a recent Qualtrics survey. Workers in Iceland reported less burnout with no negative impact on productivity when they tried it out, and some agencies in the US and Canada have already had success with it.

During his last three-day weekend, Maszle said he was able to accomplish everything on his checklist: “It happened to fall on my birthday weekend. My brother and I spent time together on that Friday. I had a day to rest, and I had a day to catch up on my personal administrative things,” he said. “It was great.”

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