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5 things we’ve discovered about employees and PTO at a scaleup company




Being a part of a scaleup company like Matillion means you get to be a part of explosive growth and a fast-paced working style. And that growth dynamic definitely attracts a certain type of team member. Team Green is full of high performers who care about their jobs and put maximum energy and commitment into their workdays. 

But part of managing a high-growth company is making sure that those who work hard also take time for some equally focused rest and relaxation. One of our core values is, “We care about our people and our communities.” Our CEO, Matthew Scullion, is the first to remind us that, ‘Matillion is really, really important, but it isn’t as important as you or your family.’ We truly believe that, but we also know how hard it is to achieve work-life balance for employees who are pushing full-speed ahead. That’s why we try to reinforce time-off and rejuvenation at every level of the business. It’s not easy, and we’ve definitely learned a few things.  

1. You can’t recharge without ample PTO 

How much time off is enough time off? We did our research. We saw many tech companies offer “unlimited PTO,” which sounds too good to be true. And we found that in most cases, it is. Research showed that when handed unlimited PTO, employees tended to actually take LESS time off. The average amount of time taken at these companies was between 8 and 10 days a year. Very few job applicants would look twice at a job that offered 8-10 days off a year.

Our solution? Offer defined amounts of PTO, but make those amounts generous. We looked at policies across several tech companies in hubs like Silicon Valley to assess what was standard. And we tried to exceed that standard. In 2021, Matillion enhanced the PTO policy for our entire team to include:

  • UK–25 days, increasing to 30 days after 1 year of service
  • US–15 days, increasing to 25 days after 1 year of service

By doing this, we feel like employees have ample time off to really wind down, and at the same time, we felt that by defining PTO clearly, we were setting expectations that we value and encourage time off. 


2. Time off is just as important when you’re working at home (even more so) 

There is one thing that we all learned over the last year: People associate time off with travel, and reasonably so. “Staycations” never held the same excitement as a jaunt to the beach or the mountains. But the pandemic threw all travel plans into disarray. People weren’t traveling–and as a result, they weren’t taking time off. In a remote environment, the lines between work and life blurred. In 2020, Wall Street Journal reported that employees spent over 22 million extra hours on their primary job each workday, a recipe for stress and burnout for many working adults.

Our collective year at home reminded us of a very important thing: Never stop emphasizing the importance of time off, even if your only travel is to the backyard. We actively encouraged people to use their days and remember that work at home is still work, and needs some rest and play to balance it out.

3. Mental health is not an afterthought

A generous leave allowance is a great way to mentally recharge. But strong mental health is something that needs to be cultivated at all times, whether you’re on leave or on the job. The past year presented unforeseen challenges that gave us an opportunity to revamp policies to help employees thrive with regular mental health support. 

Now team members can take ad-hoc ME days to support their well-being and mental health. We offer 1 ME day per quarter as part of a wider initiative around mental health support that also includes the Employee Assistance Program, access to the Headspace app for all employees, the launch of mental health first aiders (MHFA), and health insurance that includes mental health care. 

4. Milestones deserve their own days off

No one wants to use a time-off day to move house, and no one wants to squeeze in helping your child move to University in between meetings. Life’s big moments should be a source of joy, not stress, which is why team members at Matillion get fully paid milestone leave to enjoy their big life events. Milestone leave includes:

  • Moving to a new house 
  • Your child’s first day of primary school or secondary school
  • University move-in day
  • Graduation day, and;
  • Five days off for getting married

5. Don’t forget to check-in 

Adjusting to fully remote work is a challenge for everyone, and also makes it more challenging to ensure that your team makes their well-being a priority. Whether it’s measures to combat Zoom fatigue, encouraging daily walks, or ensuring that your team takes all of their PTO for the year, it’s important to continue to check in on employees as much as possible.

Regular surveys and reminders on policies can go a long way to making sure burnout and stress don’t get the better of your team.