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Are company-wide vacations worth it? This Utah company says yes

There might be a case for company-paid vacations

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Tourists lounge under umbrellas along Patong Beach in Phuket, Thailand.

Tourists lounge under umbrellas along Patong Beach in Phuket, Thailand on March 11, 2022.

Salinee Prab, Associated Press

There is no doubt that vacations and time off are greatly beneficial for employees. Whether the time off is unpaid or paid, employees need time away from their desks. In one Forbes article, Caroline Castrillon even claimed that taking a vacation could save your life

In recent years, some companies have gone above and beyond to provide their employees with maximum time for personal rejuvenation. For one Utah-based company, taking care of employees means taking all staff on a five-day vacation called “HeroCon.”

What is HeroCon?

JobNimbus is a CRM and project management software company that supports roofing and construction professionals. Ben Hodson founded the company in 2013. From the beginning, Hodson was eager to build not only a great business but a wonderful company environment.  

With the help of his team, Hodson established a company-wide theme based on the hero’s journey. The theme is prevalent throughout the company, the onboarding process and even the names of each office area. 

In 2020, Hodson wanted to do something even greater to say thank you to his employees. After brainstorming with his marketing vice president, Mark Olson, a decision was made: the whole company was going on vacation in December 2020. The conference would be titled “HeroCon,” in reference to the hero’s journey. 

Every December since then, Hodson and his employees have all embarked on a 5-day all-inclusive vacation. Destinations have included Maui, Hawaii and Cabo. This December, the company will be on a five-day Baja, Mexico cruise with stops in Catalina Island and Ensenada.

The benefits of a company-wide vacation

I recently interviewed Mark Olson and JobNimbus’ VP of people experience, Jared Olsen. I asked them about the purpose of the company-wide vacations. They each described three main company benefits they’ve experienced as a result of HeroCon:

1. Shared experience

The goal of HeroCon was to create personal connections among employees. Most companies give a Christmas bonus or gift. While these are great benefits, employees don’t associate those items or purchases with a company experience. 

According to an article published by McKinsey & Company, “Research shows that people who report having a positive employee experience have 16 times the engagement level of employees with a negative experience, and that they are eight times more likely to want to stay at a company.”

Olsen stated, “At HeroCon, meaningful relationships are also formed between employees as they share experiences. It is on a beach, and away from the office, that employees are able to genuinely connect. These influential experiences are what strengthen team morale even when everyone returns to their desks.” 

2. Mental wellness

Burnout is real. Gallup’s Director of Research and Strategy, Ben Wigert, stated, “According to Gallup’s recent report, Employee Burnout: Causes and Cures, 76% of employees experience burnout on the job at least sometimes, and 28% say they are burned out ‘very often’ or ‘always’ at work.” 

As evidenced by the recent great resignation, employees are making mental health a priority. As a result, companies have been inclined to take extra measures to improve their mental wellness benefits.  

For JobNimbus, a company vacation has been the answer for actively supporting its team’s mental health. Company leaders have discovered that both the planning and executing of a company-wide vacation have supported the mental stamina of their employees. 

Vacations are also an important way for employees to connect with their loved ones and personal support team. According to VeryWell, “Research has also demonstrated the link between social relationships and many different aspects of health and wellness.” For this reason, JobNimbus pays for each employee to bring a plus one on each company trip. 

Olsen says, “The most important decisions that happen for your business happen at home. HeroCon is an opportunity to show loved ones the good things happening at work. At HeroCon, we make a point to remind our employee’s loved ones that they are also part of our team.”

3. Business success

HeroCon is first and foremost for employees. However, there is no doubt that JobNimbus has benefited as a business due to the company-wide hiatus. Today, the company is rated No. 18 on BusinessQ Magazine’s Fastest Growing Companies in Utah Valley. Olsen relates a great deal of this company’s success to HeroCon. 

Olsen also reported that employee performance specifically increases every January and the company’s Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) skyrockets following the trip. Employees return from the trip “recharged,” which has a direct and positive impact on sales. 

Psychology Today confirms that vacations cause employees to be more productive. Emma Seppälä writes, “After a vacation, 64% of people say that they are ‘refreshed and excited to get back to my job.’ It’s a win-win both for employees and organizations alike, especially given the fact that unused vacation costs U.S. businesses $224 billion per year.”

As employees feel more valued through events like a company-wide vacation, retention rates also improve. This is a significant benefit for a company considering the high cost of turnover.  

According to Built In’s Kate Heinz, “It’s estimated that losing an employee can cost a company 1.5-2 times the employee’s salary. Depending on the individual’s level of seniority, the financial burden fluctuates. For hourly workers, it costs an average of $1,500 per employee. For technical positions, the cost jumps to 100-150% of salary. At the high end, C-suite turnover can cost 213% of salary.”