American Green Consulting has always been committed to providing the best employee support we possibly can.
From a 401k and an HRA to flex-time and paid time off (PTO), our goal is to provide employee benefits that contribute to each person’s short- and long-term health—physical, mental and financial.
As part of that ongoing commitment, we make it a point to take a fresh look every so often at the benefits we offer—and how they’re being used.
In addition, we also:
- Compare our offerings to the best and most current information coming out of the human resources field.
- Look at what other companies are doing successfully.
Most recently, our team took a hard look at our time-off policy. It had been a couple of years since we’d visited this, and it was due.
We discovered there was definitely room for improvement when it came to our time-off policy. So we got to work.
How it started
Flex time for all
Since American Green opened its doors in 2011, we’ve had complete flex time. This included a bucket of days off that an employee could use for any reason, at any time.
The only limitation was that an employee couldn’t use their days-off bucket for more than two weeks in a row or more than a week at a time without prior notice.
No one tracked it. We used the honor system.
Floating through the holidays
American Green has traditionally been “closed” only four days a year: New Year’s Day, July 4th, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.
The other nine federal holidays (Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Labor Day, etc.) have been considered flex or “floating” holidays, meaning employees could decide when they wanted to take these additional holidays off.
If they chose to take off the observed holiday, then great. If they decided to observe that holiday on a different day, no problem.
(Some of our quietest days are on federal holidays, and you can get a lot done!)
❝ Employees could decide when they wanted to take these additional holidays off. ❞
What we learned
In our review of our time-off policy, we learned something quite unexpected: Employees weren’t using the flexibility they were offered.
Instead of taking advantage of flex time and floating holidays, our team ended up working more—letting all that time off just float away every year.
This definitely was not our goal. So, we researched all the various time-off systems out there to see how we could improve.
We expected to find answers, but instead, we found that other companies with similar policies were seeing the exact same results.
❝ We learned something quite unexpected: Employees weren’t using the flexibility they were offered. ❞
How our time-off refresh is going
We did the only thing that made sense: We crafted a refreshed time-off policy.
Our team put our new policy to a vote (all five of us!), and it passed unanimously. 🙌
Interestingly, we decided on a more traditional time-off structure …
• We’re tracking our time in our payroll system.
• Unused time off now rolls over for a year.
… with requirements to make sure we actually take that time off.
• Every employee must take off at least five planned business days in a row each year.
• Our entire team will also now be taking the same holidays off. No more skipping those little breaks!
We’ve also added in a few AGC nuances for good measure:
• We’ll be following the federal holiday list, plus adding in the Friday after Thanksgiving.
• And each employee will be taking their birthday off as a holiday, too. That’s the most important holiday of the year! 🥳
Hopefully, these “refreshments” to our time-off policy will allow us to improve everyone’s work-life balance. We’ll check in again next year and make adjustments as needed!
❝ We did the only thing that made sense: We crafted a refreshed time-off policy. ❞
Bonus: A healthy team = Even happier clients
A healthy work-life balance improves productivity and mental and physical health (not to mention improved diversity). And a healthy team means that we have even more to give to our wonderful clients.
While we’ll be officially closed on more set days each year, we’ll still be just as responsive.
- We’ll handle the occasional exception for an employee on a case by case basis, so you may still see an email once in a while on a holiday.
- Most likely, however, the expectation will be that we’ll get back to you the very next business day. 😊
We hope you see—and experience—the benefit of our refreshed time-off policy just as much as our team does. After all, our employees are our most valuable (human) resource, just as yours are for you.
❝ A healthy team means that we have even more to give to our wonderful clients. ❞
About the author: Chris Gibbons is AGC’s President and owner. Chris has worked in the forestry industry for many years and leads AGC’s team of FSC certification experts. Learn more about Chris on our About Us page.
Additional photo credits: Chris Gibbons, Jess Gillen, and Anne Nygård and Joel Holland on Unsplash
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