Our Truly EPIC Time-Off Policy
Why We Did It + How It’s Going
When people outside EPIC ask me what I do for a living, it usually prompts a response surrounding how lucky I am to work with some of the most talented and creative individuals in the industry. We are truly full-service, meaning everything we offer is in-house. From PR to design, web, social, photo, video, and animation—we can do it all. Even when the request seems insurmountable, we rise to the challenge and figure it out—together.
But recently, I’ve been happily adding that “We just instituted a new company policy this year called ETO: EPIC Time Off.” I explain that employees no longer have a set amount of days off per year. Rather, we work with our supervisors to take the time off when we need it, and however much time we need. To which I get a furrowed-brow response like, “How is that even possible?!” Or, “How do people not take off all the time?” For me, ETO came at the perfect time (as I’ll explain later), because it helped me take the trip of a lifetime.
It all boils down to being accountable, honest, and trustworthy.
If there’s anything life has taught us over the last three years, it’s that things don’t always go as planned. Unforeseen events and plans can throw a wrench in your calendar, pushing you to course-correct and be nimble. As a supervisor myself, I feel EPIC’s new ETO policy works because it supports employees by striking a balance between work and life. This is where the accountability aspect comes into play. It gives employees the flexibility to take the time off they need without an official limit of days, so long as they fulfill the needs of ongoing projects, deadlines, and other work-related commitments. And it works because there’s genuine mutual trust. In a nutshell, EPIC provides flexibility so long as you carry through on your responsibilities as an employee.
I feel EPIC’s new ETO policy works because it supports employees by striking a balance between work and life.
EPIC’s new ETO policy comes with some parameters and best practices for those who lean into structure and process. EPIC asks employees to submit ETO requests via email to their supervisor at least 2 weeks in advance. Single-day ETO requests can be requested 1 week in advance, but may be granted with shorter notice at the supervisor’s discretion. (Like when someone is sick.) And employees are generally not allowed to take more than 10 ETO days within a 30-day period.
Once ETO is approved, communicating in advance with your team and those you work with is crucial. The better you communicate, the more smoothly your absence will go for your team and our clients—and the more you’ll enjoy your time off knowing things are covered back at the office.
We have several tools to help everyone stay aware of who’s in the office and who’s out on ETO. There is a company-wide ETO calendar that gives managers and traffic managers visibility on who’s gone. A scrum list that details the day-to-day schedule for almost every employee. And, finally, we have Slack. Slack is our go-to communication hub, where setting your “away” status is always in style. Whether you’re running a quick errand, taking your kid to a dentist appointment, or you’re on a road trip—set your away status and go do what you’ve gotta do!
We’re about halfway into the first year with the new policy, and so far, so good! I find that people are using the new policy in a variety of different ways, from using single-day ETO requests to taking the full two weeks off. Employees are strongly encouraged to take off at least 10 days each year, including at least one consecutive 5-day span. The goal for each department is to ensure there’s coverage for the work coming in, while making sure employees are getting the time off they need so that they can bring the best version of themselves to work.
A trip too good to pass up
In early January my husband and I were invited on a 2-week Caribbean cruise with some of his customers. This was a great relationship-building opportunity for him, and it was equally important for me to be there to support him. My initial reaction was, “This is too last minute! I can’t be away from my kids that long, and I can’t be away from work that long! What are we going to do with the dogs? This will never fly.” In a reassuring conversation, my supervisors couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t take advantage of this amazing opportunity, given our new company policy. What I was asking all fell within the new guidelines: I gave enough notice, it wasn’t longer than 10 business days, and there was plenty of time to get my ducks in a row beforehand.
So, we made it happen.
While there was plenty of time to enjoy the experience, there was also an equal amount of downtime. And—although it’s definitely not required—I felt very strongly about staying connected with our team, so I checked in regularly with our traffic department, attended a couple of project kick-off meetings, and even sat through some new brand training. Thanks to a halfway decent Wi-Fi connection on the ship, I was able to stay connected, which is important to me.
I know cruises aren’t for everyone, but it turns out that, once I found my sea legs, it was a blast! Seeing 8 different countries was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We liked it so much that we booked another 1-week cruise for January 2024, and this time the whole family’s coming.
Cheers to EPIC and the ETO policy for providing a work-life balance that supports both of my families.