Creating a more inclusive holiday policy for a global workforce

When a team member gave feedback that our holidays were too U.S.-centric, they weren’t wrong! Here’s how we adapted our time-off policy to be more globally inclusive.

Every quarter, we capture employee feedback about what’s working well and where we can improve. While reviewing the latest survey results, I noticed this: 

“Be more aware of our international holidays and be a little less America-focused if we can be.”

My honest first thought – as blunt as it may seem – was, “It’s impossible to please everyone.” With a fully remote, global team, how could we feasibly create a holiday policy that properly recognized every location equally? 

After sitting with my gut reaction for a few minutes, my thoughts shifted: “Well, why not try?”

To the drawing board!

Our unlimited PTO policy has always allowed for individual employees to observe local and personal holidays freely. That said, I recognized that taking time off for those days feels much less like time off when all your teammates are still working. Knowing that your inbox is piling up with requests and missed Slack messages means your locally observed holiday could be inherently less restful than one observed company-wide.

So I started by going to my at-home whiteboard. (Well, sort of. My dry-erase markers are tragically parched at the moment. Too much dry, you might say.)

First, I made a list of all our holidays. Next, I reached out to Nextmvers in Colombia, Germany, and The Netherlands to ask what holidays would be particularly meaningful for us to observe company-wide. After that, I reviewed the existing holidays and here’s how the list shook out: 

List of company-wide holidays previously and a list of company-wide holidays after accounting for a more inclusive approach.

We officially rolled out this new holiday schedule in March 2022. (Yes, we are aware that our seasonal naming will need to be updated to account for our north/south hemispheres, but it’s a start!) In addition to the new schedule, employees in any location can still observe additional region-specific holidays via unlimited PTO (e.g., Presidents’ Day in February in the U.S., or German Unity Day in October). 

While we may not be able to indefinitely add holidays to recognize every country as our team continues to grow, this move will pay homage to the countries we first hired team members in. It’s a nice tribute to Nextmv’s beginnings. 

What this holiday change accomplished

While this exercise started with feedback that I wasn’t entirely sure how to tackle at first, we’ve ended up with a good outcome for the team. These changes resulted in:  

  • Making our holiday observances more equitable and inclusive worldwide
  • Demonstrating to employees that, yes, we do read and act on survey feedback
  • Adding a mid-summer break for a full week
  • Creating an opportunity to learn more about each other’s cultures and traditions

I, for one, am excited to work somewhere with a holiday policy I can take pride in – one that better respects people, celebrates my teammates, and further educates each of us. 

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