Last month, a News.com.au report highlighted a novel way that a CEO in Australia has been trying to encourage better work-life balance and less presenteeism in his workforce. Robbert Rietbroek, CEO of PepsiCo in Australia and New Zealand, asks his executive team to “leave loudly” when departing the office so that they are being extra visible (and audible) role models for junior employees.
“If I occasionally go at 4 pm to pick up my daughters,” Rietbroek told the news site, “I will make sure I tell the people around me, ‘I’m going to pick up my children.’ Because if it’s okay for the boss, then it’s okay for middle management and new hires.” He added that if you are “younger or more junior, you need to be able to see your leaders go home, to be comfortable to leave.”
Since Rietbroek became CEO in 2015, he has been promoting a number of family-friendly workplace policies, including 16-week parental leave, flexible work times, and summer Fridays. The benefits are not just limited to working parents, either, as the flexibility is centered around the concept of “One Simple Thing,” where an employee can pick the most important thing in their personal life and can build a work schedule around that. For many, the one simple thing is being more involved in their children’s lives, but for others, like the head of procurement, it can be a hobby like surfing.
In a post on his public Facebook account on Friday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that he plans to take two months of paternity leave when his second daughter is born. Zuckerberg made headlines in 2015 when he announced that he would take two months off after the birth of his first daughter Max, and shortly thereafter expanded Facebook’s generous parental leave policy to employees around the world. That policy gives all full-time employees, regardless of their gender, up to four months of leave, which they may take at any time in the first year after their child is born or adopted.
Zuckerberg said he would take his first month of leave as soon as the baby is born (he and his wife Priscilla Chan have not publicly disclosed her due date, but he wrote on Friday that the baby was “coming soon”), and would take the month of December off as well. Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Chief Financial Officer David Wehner will be the highest-ranking executives at Facebook in his absence.
In his post, Zuckerberg emphasized the importance of new parents—mothers and fathers alike—taking time to bond with their babies at the start of their lives. “At Facebook, we offer four months of maternity and paternity leave because studies show that when working parents take time to be with their newborns, it’s good for the entire family,” he wrote. “And I’m pretty sure the office will still be standing when I get back.”
The 32-year-old CEO won praise for taking time off after his first daughter’s birth, and is getting similarly good press this time around, because in doing so he is setting an example of involved fatherhood and letting Facebook employees, particularly men, know that it is OK and even desirable for them to take parental leave.
The latest research into the vacation habits of US employees shows that Americans are getting more paid vacation days from their employers, but most are leaving at least some of that time on the table. At the Harvard Business Review, Liane Davey offers some practical suggestions for getting employees to actually use their vacation time:
For some people, not taking vacation is actually a selfish move. They find it incredibly arduous to prepare everything for their absence and conclude that it’s just not worth it. It’s your role to make preparing for vacation as smooth and seamless as possible. Over the long term, establishing backups for each role and codifying processes through knowledge management make it easier for any one person to be away with the confidence that their job will be in good hands. In the short term, provide a template that allows the person to document their ongoing activities or projects and assign someone to cover each aspect. Start this conversation a couple of weeks before vacation so that as many tasks as possible can be wrapped up before the vacation begins. A smooth getaway this year will increase the likelihood that the person will take more vacation next year. …