Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, which it seems is one of the few days of the year that anyone not affiliated with public service, the NFL, or the Macy’s parade is not working. Maybe I should include retail in there because of the unfortunate trend of stores open on this holiday.
A few notes on holidays in the build-stage company world. This is especially relevant now as many of my clients are setting up their 2019 Holiday Calendars.
First, which ones? Although I’m a CFO, I am in favor of giving employees off for the day after Thanksgiving. This is a holiday about being together with family, which for many of us, means travel (or that people have traveled to spend time with us). Because I’m in the Boston area, where you can count the number of nice-weather months on one hand, I also believe in either the day before or after July 4th, depending on how the calendar falls. This is not a day when a lot of productive work gets done, and it’s early both in the month and the quarter.
The same goes for January 2nd, although not necessarily for December 31st, which often is the mad dash to close the quarter and year. It can be a stressful and fun day to have everyone together driving to a common goal. Better still if you’ve hit your numbers for the year and can give this day off as a bonus.
Then there are the holidays which are commonly considered optional: MLK Day, President’s Day and Veteran’s Day. I’ve seen companies decide different things about them. The markets are closed, as are schools, but I think many companies tend to be open and functioning fully on these days. Good Friday is another example of this.
Again, I am in favor of having these as days off. I think it’s important to recognize MLK, our democracy, and our men and women in uniform. Easter is an important day for many people, and a time for family.
A related question relates to the Jewish holidays in the fall, or Passover. When I was young, I always found it a little unfair that my holidays (especially Yom Kippur, which I dreaded for the fasting part anyway) required me to take vacation days, but Christians had off for Good Friday and Christmas. I got over that though. This is what float days are for, and besides, when I was young I didn’t need to take days off to take care of sick relatives or children. Now I appreciate more how important that was.
Another reason I favor more holidays is that many people work on their days off, and/or don’t take all of their vacation. Time off is very important. I know that is not a common utterance from many CFOs. But it’s true – if you don’t a recharge a battery, it not only runs down, it loses the ability to be recharged.
So, even highly motivated build-stage startup employees have to take time off. And sometimes, you have to force it. The holiday calendar is one way to do this – and by the way, set yourself apart from other startups competing for the same talent you are.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving.