With Rising Stress in the Tech World, Okta’s CEO Arranges for Employees to Take Guilt-Free Vacations

Tech industry and other work from home-based offices have been at the end of immense stress due to the COVId-19 pandemic and its resulting lockdowns, which forced employees to go through 16 months of remote work. The lifestyle change has affected the life-work balance for many, if not all. Working parents have also had to deal with kids involved in Zoom school with no physical activities, thus, increasing the work of the parents to keep their child engaged in other productive activities. Younger urban families have had to live in small apartments with no way of going out for socializing or even to just have a walk. 

Todd Mckinnon is the current CEO of a high-growth software company, “Okta,” based in San Francisco, employing around 3500 people. The company also reportedly closed a $6.5 billion acquisition. The co-founder of the company, in a unique gesture from a business owner, asked for his employees’ vacation plans with the aim that they would not worry about product updates and deliveries while they are away.

He stated that what worried him was employee burnout. Even though the company allows for unlimited vacation, it can be hard for employees to travel guilt-free, and that is especially true for Bay Area, where 16 hours per day and the working weekend is a set norm. Thus, in a recent all-hands meeting, the CEO started out with his own travel plans to Napa while stating the importance of getting away from work for a while to refresh oneself. To top it all, he then requested his workers to email him their upcoming arrangements with as much detailing as they desired. 

He received about 950 messages wherein employees went all out stating their travel plans and what part of it they are excited about. Including all the places they plan to visit and food they would partake in. The most common was employees interested in visiting their kith and kin, which they couldn’t before due to stringent lockdowns.  McKinnon agreed that burnout and mental health are not similar, which is why the company had also invested in Modern Health. It is a digital mental health and wellness service and mediation app to help its employees during stringent lockdowns. He revealed that his point is that employees should not be forced or burned out to the point that they have no other choices. Thus, their company would always be open to vacation plans.The company also provided the option to its workers in August 2021 that they opt for working from any place as the company wants to maintain a healthy work plan.