Who wouldn’t want to go to Miami?
Especially during the winter time. When people living up north have to put on large winter coats to go anywhere outside, shovel snow, and avoid slipping on ice while walking, they look down on sunny South Florida in envy as, ho-hum, it’s another 80 degree day.
So South Beach, or frozen tundra? Which one would you choose?
It was an easy choice for the New York Giants of the National Football League. After beating the Washington Redskins 19-10 on New Year’s Day in a meaningless game for the Giants with their playoff seeding intact, some of their star players decided to go on a little vacation down to Miami the following day. It was an off-day for the team, so that is what they chose to do. Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz, Sterling Shepard, and Roger Lewis, all wide receivers for the team, were pictured on a boat down in the Magic City “living it up”. They also went clubbing with Justin Bieber and Trey Songz that same day. Those pictures stirred up some controversy within the New York media, and Giants head coach Ben McAdoo was asked about it the following day. “Players are off until tomorrow morning,” McAdoo said. “We will see them tomorrow morning and they’ll get their workout in, and we’ll get ready for Green Bay (their playoff opponent).”
Normally, NFL players on their off days do a number of different things. They either rest up, run errands, do charitable work, or relax and go somewhere to recharge the batteries. This is not an uncommon occurrence and, on ESPN’s NFL Live show on Tuesday (1/3/17), panelists Bill Polian, an NFL Hall-of-Fame General Manager, Jerome Bettis, a Hall-of-Fame running back, and Damien Woody, a Pro Bowl offensive tackle, all agreed that it is “much ado about nothing” and that this was very common for players to do on their off days, but the host Wendi Nix was concerned about the optics of the Giants’ players actions. Partying in Miami before a make-or-break playoff game did not look good in her and many people’s minds because it gives off a sense of unpreparedness and laziness.
So what does this have to do with employer branding? The above example is the mindset many Americans have about work than their European counterparts. In America, people “live to work”. They work long hours and put in a lot of time and effort into what they do, which can lead to a promotion, but can also lead to stress, less work/life balance, and less time with the family. In Europe (especially in the Nordic countries), people “work to live”. They best understand that a happy employee is a productive employee, and they take measures to ensure that happiness, stemming from a strong education system tailored to preparing students for the business world, to a high quality of life, as well as training and development programs throughout their entire professional careers. Companies that understand and embrace this principle are going to have stronger employer brands than those that do not.
Recent studies have shown that more vacation time leads to more production from employees. While this is a concept starting to gather steam in the US, this principle is already a strong part of Europe. Every country in the European Union, for example, is mandated at least 4 weeks of paid vacation. Austria, a country that is among the top 10 in the world when it comes to the happiest professionals according to Universum, averages the most number of paid vacation days in the EU with 22. The United States is the only developed country in the world to not mandate paid vacation days or holidays. Vacations lead to more productivity because they refresh your mind, give you a different perspective on life (especially in a 3rd world country), and get you away from your “grind” and your “hustle”. Howard Schultz transformed Starbucks into a multi-billion dollar powerhouse based on a trip he took to Italy. Technically, it was a business trip, but Starbucks would not be the company it is today had he not been inspired by the local espresso bars there. The techniques, innovations, and superior customer service he learned there were applied to his company, and both its consumer and employer brand are very strong because of it.
Other companies have embraced vacations and have even taken them to the next level. FullContact, a contact information management platform, not only offers its employees paid vacation, but also pays the bill for that vacation. Expensify, a company that aims to make expense reporting easier, takes it a step further. They will take their entire team abroad (family members included) for one month, with all expenses paid for by the company! This is still work time, but this time is their most productive of the year, according to them. These companies know the value of getting away for a little while, and that is why they are prime examples of how employer branding can be very valuable.
Americans’ mentality and approach to work is what led to the negative reaction of the players partying in Miami on their off day. Their mentality is that those players should be at the facility, studying the playbook, and breaking down tape of the upcoming opponent (or, at the very least, not do anything to the extent that the players did). But the New York Giants followed the European methodology. If anything, according to studies, the Giants will be helping themselves by vacationing. Getting away from it all can help them re-focus and perhaps win their game. Time will tell, but if you ask Justin Bieber, “What Do You Mean” people can’t escape from it all and have a little fun? Let them (as long as they’re not breaking any laws or company rules of course)! Your company may be better off in the long run.