How a vacation accountability buddy can help you take time off work

Last year, Bumble gave employees a paid week off of work in an effort to curb employee burnout. It made such a difference that the dating app company now gives employees a collective week-long holiday twice a year.

It’s a big move that adds to the company’s generous time-off policies, including 6 months of paid leave following the birth, adoption or surrogacy of a child; a 4-week transition period for new parents; time off to care for a sick family member; and ample days of grievance left after a loss.

While the company officially has an unlimited PTO policy, employees also have a “minimum suggested time off” based on their tenure, from 15 to 25 days. With the company-wide shutdowns, that means some workers are expected to take up to seven weeks of vacation per year.

To hit that minimum time off, Priti Joshi, Bumble’s vice president of global commercial strategy and operations, says it’s helpful to have an accountability buddy. “It’s kind of like when people get their friends to go with them to a 7 am workout class so they’ll actually show up,” she says. “In this case, it’s somebody at work who can hold you accountable for taking your PTO.”

She tells CNBC Make It she’s come close to canceling her plans before, but having a co-worker support her time off (and help balance the workload while she’s out) helps.

Here, Joshi, 35, shares how to put that partnership into action, why she prefers to check work messages on vacation and the case for taking time off spontaneously.

Why it helps to have a vacation accountability buddy: There will inevitably be urgent things that show up at work and make it feel like an inconvenient time to take off. You might feel compelled to cancel your PTO. That’s when it’s important to have that person who holds you accountable to take your time off. They can be the little angel sitting on your shoulder reminding you it’s important and good to take time away from the office.

That person for me is somebody that I manage. She is my accountability peer. Just as much as I’m having a conversation with her around when she’s planning on taking PTO, she can have the same kind of conversation with me.

Why it’s important for leaders to model taking time off: Our CEO and founder Whitney Wolfe Herd recently had her second child, and she took her full maternity leave. That set such a good example for other parents. I recently took a 6½ month maternity leave. So there are really great examples from all around the business.

Why she prefers to check in on work while on PTO: What makes me feel confident and more at ease is to do a 5-minute check-in in the morning when my daughter’s down for a nap. I’ll just do a quick scan of what’s going on in email or Slack, but I don’t respond. I’m not going to take my computer out. I think that helps me feel at ease when I’m going back to work.

That doesn’t have to be the case for every vacation. For me it’s how I allow myself to check in during mission-critical times. But most of my team prefers to delete Slack and email apps from their phones.

Why spontaneous time off is as important as a big vacation: In addition to thinking about advanced planning of your PTO, we also make room to pause and give ourselves grace to take care of ourselves in the moment. For example, I’ve been solo parenting our 8-month-old daughter this week while my husband travels for work. It’s a lot of work at home on top of what we have going on here at Bumble. Looking ahead, I saw my Friday is fairly light, so I’m planning to take off the afternoon to spend with my daughter and my husband when he’s back.

This kind of flexible PTO environment means I can ensure I’m not dropping the ball on any kind of important work that needs to be done, and still take care of myself.

What she’d tell her 25-year-old self about taking time off: Take as much time off as you can. The work will be there when you get back. I would also ask myself: What are you worried about? And if you are worried about something, how can you put in the support mechanisms at work to help you not worry about taking time off?

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Check out:

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