“We feel like we’ve built a good culture. We’re always trying to find ways to provide unique perks. That’s how this idea came about.”
Well, it’s official: I hate my boss. You probably know him, his name is Clint and he was last seen performing judo moves for a photographer from Utah Valley Business magazine. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate him on a personal level, I just hate him on a business level because I recently found out Provo-based Wallaroo Media introduced something called a mandatory sabbatical for their employees, a forced 30-day vacation that is paid for by the company. Does Beehive Startups have this? Absolutely not and as soon as I finish this article I’m walking 10 steps to Clint’s office and confronting him about it.
In the meantime, let’s discuss mandatory sabbaticals because they sound awesome and also because that’s going to be the name of my new band. I spoke with Brandon Doyle, co-founder and CEO of Wallaroo, to explore the reasoning behind offering such an attractive perk even though they are a relatively small business (Wallaroo employs roughly 30 people).
“We don’t have the deep pockets of the bigger startups around here, but we want to provide our employees with as many benefits as possible,” said Doyle. “We are very much of the work hard, play hard mentality.”
Building a culture is paramount in a young company’s existence. Many founders who have risen to power as CEOs of incredibly successful companies — such as Aaron Skonnard of Pluralsight — point to the early establishment of company culture as a key factor in driving that success. Part of building a culture means finding ways to distinguish yourself from the company next door, where all the employees wear stuffy clothes and spend work hours surfing LinkedIn for job opportunities. At Wallaroo, created nearly four years ago, part of this culture-building process is now clearly defined — mandatory sabbaticals.
“We feel like we’ve built a good culture,” said Doyle. “We’re always trying to find ways to provide unique perks. That’s how this idea came about.”
Once every four years, Wallaroo employees will now go on a mandatory sabbatical. It’s 30 days of paid vacation, which doesn’t count against the normal paid holidays/sick days. At least 15 of the days are required to be spent outside of Utah, preferably out of the country, and that excursion is also paid for by Wallaroo. After the first sabbatical, employees are allowed to take one every third year. Am I filling out a resume right now? Yes, yes I am.