When Aye Moa discovered that one of her boomerang co-founders was burning during the epidemic, she and her team decided to intervene. Sure, travel is off the table, but maybe they can take a week’s vacation and play video games at home. He was also sending them to lunch. Something for him to relax.
Moh, the company’s CEO, has learned to be more proactive about identifying employee burnout signs. “We’ve been working for this company for 11 years,” he tells CNBC Make It. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint. We know that when people cross the burnout stage and try to recover, it will have a greater impact on the business than people take care of themselves.”
Her hope is that Boomerang will help people take breaks and manage their time. Tech is best known for its email and productivity tools, such as an inbox plug-in to delay and send messages. Moh uses it while she’s on vacation – if she has a work idea she doesn’t want to lose, but doesn’t want to get weeds while she’s in the PTO, she drafts a note to self-send after she returns.
Regarding paid time off, Boomerang offers employees 17 holidays to start, plus one extra day per year of service. Here, Moh, 40, explains how she never stops thinking about work, a great way to tell employees she’s burning out, and how the loss of a family has changed how she values time.
After a big deadline, she “disappears” from work: I tend to schedule a holiday after the product is released because they are so tired. I was really tight wounded before one. So after the start, I spend a week in the office to make sure everything is still going smoothly. In the second week after the launch, I’m going somewhere off the grid. My team knows – “Moh disappears in the second week of launch.”
Why she still thinks about vacation work: I’m a founder, so I never stop thinking about work. I know people say, “Oh, you should enjoy your vacation and not think about work.” That’s not really me. So I would go hiking or play with the kids and still think about how the launch went. This is a way to process what happened at low intensity.
Processing objects from a distance helps me see what’s best. Otherwise, if I’m still in work mode, I’ll sit down and stew what could have been better.
Then, when we all come back, our team does a post-mortem to talk about what to do differently next time with a new perspective.
How they tell employees they want to take leave: As a manager, there are some signs that someone should take a break. You can learn that they have not taken a PTO in 18 months. Or you can tell if someone has less power or is not involved.
Usually when people don’t take you about it, they care about delaying the project or doing too much work for their colleagues, so you need to reassure them. If you are a direct manager, I think you have a close enough relationship to encourage them to take the time.
It’s not like saying, “Hey, you look tired,” because that’s not a good conversation. It’s more like, “Hey, you haven’t taken a vacation in a while. Before this big project, we had flexibility on the schedule. And this other guy works on it too. So you don’t influence anyone. What do you think?”
How the loss impacted how she valued time: I lost my brother when he was 23 years old. That left a stamp on me, you never know what tomorrow will bring. You have no idea how much time you have left on earth. So try to see every day, every month, every year as precious time. I am a very ambitious person. I want to be successful in my career and make progress. But at the same time, it’s not everything.
What she says to the 25-year-old about taking a break: Don’t wait for the perfect moment to pick it up – there’s never a perfect moment. My co-founders and I started building this company when we were in our 20s. We are paying off student debt and there is no money to go anywhere. But we have taken every opportunity to take low-budget tours that we can afford. Now that we are a little older and the company is more successful, we have the resources to travel. But we have children and more responsibility. Therefore it is difficult, and responsible, to balance the resources in terms of time and money.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.
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