- Toggle AI is giving staff $2,000 in cash or $10,000 in equity if they take two weeks’ vacation.
- The startup introduced unlimited paid leave in 2022 and wants to ensure staff take their vacation.
- Offering a paid incentive is a way of showing the firm means it, Toggle’s co-founder told Insider.
Amid continued record high quit rates firms are scrambling to help their staff wind down.
Whereas some are rolling out innovative benefits like giving new starters paid leave before they start, or a greater say over where they work, one investment startup is going the extra mile when it comes to paid time off, offering workers $2,000 or $10,000 in equity if they take two weeks’ worth of vacation.
It’s a way of ensuring that staff actually take their unlimited holiday, Giuseppe Sette, co-founder and president of AI investment startup Toggle AI, told Insider.
Toggle AI, an online investment platform, formally introduced an unlimited paid leave policy in February 2022, influenced by those pioneered at tech firms like Netflix.
However, despite the benefit being popular among employees, studies show that having unlimited paid leave can actually lead people to take less holidays, because they’re eager to prove their worth or don’t feel trusted by management, for example.
The founders wanted to avoid this “giant psychological trap,” Sette said. Incentivising the benefit is a way of conveying clearly that the founders mean it when they say they want staff to take it, he added.
Staff receive $1,000 or $5,000 in equity for each week they take off
Toggle has offices in London, Tokyo, and New York. The benefit is available to all 32 employees, who span roles in tech, marketing, and science.
Staff receive $1,000 in cash and $5,000 in equity bonus for each week they take off. The only stipulation is that they have to take a full week off, although they don’t have to take each week back to back.
Although they can take as much paid leave as they like, the bonus is capped at two weeks.
It’s about giving people choice, Sette said. Toggle’s founders all have history working for finance firms in London and New York, where they saw the benefit wrought of making leave mandatory. However, they didn’t want to force people to take time off, Sette said.
“It’s a message about the kind of culture that we want to have — it’s a place where people work hard, but it’s a place that also takes care of a person,” Sette said. This then trickles down and reflects in how managers take care of their own team members, he added.
“You can hire a new manager or invest in a nicer office wherever else. But the truth of the matter is that when you do something special for people they remember it,” he said.
The firm — which received $10.5 million in Series A funding in July 2021 — has budgeted the cost and will be able to cover the overheads of the benefit for up to 1,000 employees, Sette said.
Sette believes staff, when given the choice, are more likely to take the equity ticket over the cash because this could increase over time. Toggle AI staffers already receive a four-year vest when they join the company.
The vacation bonus initiative is part of wider efforts aimed at helping to maintain a nice environment, so they can enjoy lunches and get-togethers, for example.
It’s still too early to measure the impact of the benefit, which was introduced in February, although Sette said there’s been a morale boost. It’s also raised eyebrows among job applicants.
“It’s not enough just to hire smart people — employers need to put them in a position to be successful,” Sette said — that means giving them benefits that matter, he added.
“Yes, snacks are fine. Beer on tap or beer on Friday is great — but that’s nice to have,” Sette said. “Parental leave, or other things like holidays that matter. Create an environment where people can thrive.”
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