As a team whose ethos is to make the world’s best workplaces, we’re always thinking about how to design our own. Rest is high on Bright + Early’s priority list; we are conscious of creating a culture where weekend and after-5 Slack messages are few and far between. We also work on a 4 day schedule every other week, allowing more time for family or non-work priorities. Taking adequate rest keeps us sharp for the tough and often emotionally laborious work that HR sometimes requires. Of course, we take the regular government holidays off as well. But one day, after sharing our Easter weekend plans, we realized that few of us actually celebrate the Christian holidays that many of the government-regulated statutory holidays in the US and Canada are designed around. Some of us had had to tap into our vacation days to attend our own unique cultural or spiritual celebrations, which didn’t feel fair. Our solution? A new time off category that we called “Spiritual Days”.
Spiritual Days are days employees can take off for cultural or religious events that don’t align with Euro-Christian centric bank holidays. Or, if you are Christian, or don’t identify with any particular cultural or religious group at all, you can use them for anything that feeds your spirit; volunteering, attending a meditation retreat, etc. They are paid in full, and we offer everyone 3 per year. Trisha, a Senior Consultant and our Compensation Lead, uses them to be in community.
“As someone who is agnostic, but participates in major Hindu holidays (also known as pujas), I love that we have flexibility built into our time off policy that goes beyond vacation days. Aside from religious holidays, I lead annual camping trips for BIPOC community groups, and I’ve been able to use my spiritual days for those trips. I see my vacation days as the opportunity to completely eject whereas I use my spiritual days to connect with my community.”
It’s important to note that in most jurisdictions, workplaces are legally required to accommodate their employees’ religious needs until the point of undue hardship. This means that in most cases, employers must provide time off for major religious holidays. However, not every celebration will fall under this code. Our team has used spiritual days to attend local community events, to attend Indigenous ceremonies, and to celebrate the traditional holidays of countries they or their families immigrated from. We feel these are equally important.
Our team thinks so too; our employee net promoter score (NPS) remains consistently well above 90%. Stephanie, a Senior Consultant and Team Lead at Bright + Early, belongs to a number of different communities, all with different types of celebrations.
“I’ve used (Spiritual Days) to attend a powwow, as well as Jewish holidays like Rosh Hashanah with my husband’s family. I personally prioritize using them for things that lead to connection for me. But it's something that I really, really love because I don't need to pick and choose between certain aspects of my culture or my experience. It lets me honour my whole self.”
We also share our Spiritual Days program on our job postings and careers page, and get really great feedback from folks who not only apply, but have shared the posting as a good example of what a flexible and inclusive employer can provide. It shows that we value not just work-life balance, but thoughtfully designing what it looks like for each unique individual. These aren’t just feel-good tactics; a team that feels rested, as well as recognized and included, is going to craft better work. If you’re looking for an easy to implement perk that makes everyone feel seen, give spiritual days a try.