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Seven months with Flexible Public Holidays

We believe that the benefits a company chooses must always be in line with the company culture and values. In this case, the new benefit was born out of our dedication to being the most inclusive we can be in order to allow for diversity and all the greatness that comes with it. Plus we like to celebrate whenever we can. So the ultimate goal was to make it possible for everyone to celebrate who they really are.

We have employees of over 90 different nationalities, and they are spread all over the world. So needless to say, not everyone’s heritage and beliefs match the public holiday schedule of the country they currently work in. Now, we’re not usually difficult when it comes to accommodating the need for scheduling days off when something special is up. But we wanted to make it fair, official, and easy so that everyone can celebrate what’s close to their hearts on equal terms.

So seven months ago we introduced Flexible Public Holidays, and we have been getting a lot of questions on how this benefit works. 

How Flexible Public Holidays work

All employees can make a day-off trade: work on a day that is a public holiday in the country where you are employed, and then take out another workday as a holiday instead when it fits your values, beliefs, and celebration calendar better. For example, someone working in Italy, where Christmas Day is a public holiday, can work that day and then trade it for a day off on for example Yom Kippur, or the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.

We do require manager approval to trade days, for planning purposes and to make sure the team isn’t negatively affected. But there is no evaluation of what you are celebrating or why you want to make the switch you do. This is important; nobody gets to decide what’s an important holiday for anyone else.

The admin is simple: Work on a holiday, report it in the HR system as a worked Flexible Public Holiday day. Then take your day off and report it as a Flexible Public Holiday day off.  

Seven-month evaluation

We decided from the beginning to keep it simple and tweak as we went along. And so far, this benefit has been received incredibly well. No tweaks have had to be made.

In the seven months since we introduced this benefit, roughly one holiday per five employees has already been switched. That’s a lot more switched days than we expected, and a great sign that this benefit is appreciated by our employees. 

We had some initial questions and misunderstandings, like how does this relate to vacation days (it doesn’t, these are not vacation days) or what we consider a holiday (doesn’t matter what we think is a holiday, that’s up to you).

We also had some initial questions about trust. “What if people switch to days that are not holidays at all but something irrelevant that they made up just to get a day off?”. Well, what if they were to? It’s still work one day for another day off, so there is no cost involved. And we trust our employees with our entire business and future; why wouldn’t we trust them with this as well? This has also not proven to be an issue.

Is it expensive?

No. The basis of this is that work happens on another day than the one originally intended. So for all practical purposes, this is a cost-neutral benefit. The extra admin required is equivalent of the work necessary to get a cup of coffee from the machine down the hall.

Should you do this too?

If it fits your company’s values and culture, yes! Our experience is all positive. This benefit fits right into our program, with our inclusion goals and our global parental leave program, and it’s obviously appreciated by our diverse staff.

It’s been a small step in terms of cost and effort, but a big and important step in terms of allowing equal terms for employees of all different faiths and cultures, and allowing all Spotifiers to feel at home and celebrate wherever they are.

PS: We want to give the Swedish mobile operation 3 a shout out for serving as our inspiration for this initiative!

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