How a vacation manager can help you take time off from work

Last year, Bumble gave employees a paid week off to curb employee burnout. It’s made such a difference that the dating app company now gives its employees a week’s vacation together twice a year.

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

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

To meet that minimum time off, Priti Joshi, vice president of global commercial strategy and operations at Bumble, says it helps to have a buddy for accountability. “It’s like people get their friends to take them to a 7 a.m. workout class so they actually show up,” she says. “In that case, it’s someone at work who can blame you for taking your PTO.”

She tells CNBC Make It that she was close to canceling her plans before, but it helps to have a colleague to support her free time (and help balance the workload while she’s gone).

Here Joshi, 35, shares how to put that partnership into action, why she prefers to check work news when on vacation, and why one takes spontaneous time off.

Why it helps to have a vacation supervisor: There will inevitably be urgent things that come up at work that make it feel like a bad time to take off. You may feel compelled to cancel your PTO. Then it is important that this person who holds you accountable takes their time. You can be the little angel sitting on your shoulder reminding you that taking time off from the office is important and good.

To me, this person is someone I manage. She is my accountability colleague. Just as I chat with her when she plans to take PTO, she can have the same type of conversation with me.

Why it’s important for leaders to take time off: Our CEO and Founder, Whitney Wolfe Herd, recently welcomed her second child and took her full maternity leave. That was a good example for other parents. I recently took 6½ months maternity leave. So there are really great examples from across the industry.

Why she prefers to stop by work during her PTO stint: What makes me more confident and relaxed is a 5 minute check in in the morning when my daughter is napping. I’m just checking what’s going on in email or Slack, but I’m not responding. I will not take out my computer. I think this helps me feel comfortable when I go back to work.

This does not have to be the case with every holiday. For me, this allows me to check in at mission-critical times. But most of my team prefer to delete Slack and email apps from their phones.

Why a spontaneous break is just as important as a long vacation: Not only do we think about planning your PTO ahead, we also create space to pause and give ourselves the grace to take care of ourselves in the moment. For example, this week I single-handedly raised our 8-month-old daughter while my husband was away at work. It’s a lot of work at home on top of what’s going on here at Bumble. Looking ahead, I’ve seen that my Friday is pretty light, so I’m planning to take the afternoon off to spend with my daughter and husband when he gets back.

This type of flexible PTO environment means I can make sure I don’t drop the ball on any important work that needs getting done and still be able to take care of myself.

What she would tell her 25-year-old self about taking a break: Take as much time as possible. The work will be there when you come back. I would also ask myself: What are you worried about? And if you’re worried about something, how can you use the supportive mechanisms to help you not worry about time off?

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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