SteelHouse CEO Mark Douglas said the policy — known as SteelHouse Days — has led to huge jumps in people's morale and energy.
Mark Douglas had no idea what five extra days off a year could do for his company.
It was January of 2017, and Douglas, CEO of the marketing and advertising company SteelHouse, announced to his team that every month without a three-day weekend would now come with a so-called "SteelHouse Day."
For one Friday or Monday each month, the entire company would shut down.
It's been a year since Douglas implemented the policy, and he says there have been tremendous improvements in employee morale and productivity, far above what he thought would happen.
"We're literally removing a day a month out of the work month for the entire company," Douglas told Business Insider.
For the person working eight-hour days, that's an extra 40 hours a year in lost productivity. SteelHouse has roughly 250 employees, which means it sacrifices 10,000 hours of potential work just by offering an extra five days off.
"You're taking a bet that this will ultimately benefit everyone, including the company yourself," Douglas said.
Over the past year, that has seemed to be the case, Douglas said. The company's bottom line hasn't been hurt by the policy, and if anything, it's brought the team closer together and left them feeling more refreshed.
SteelHouse Days are unlike normal days off, Douglas added.
On normal days off, some portion of a given team will be working while others take the time. Those who take off may still feel the pull of work, either through email or phone calls. SteelHouse actually shuts down completely on SteelHouse Days, which lets people fully disconnect.
"When you make it so the whole team does it, it really does give the entire team a long weekend — a built-in, enjoy-yourself time each month of the year," Douglas said.
SteelHouse Days aren't the company's first innovative office perk. Since 2011, employees have been given a designated allowance to take any vacation they choose. The current allowance is $2,000 a year.
Douglas' philosophy has been to trust people to manage their time wisely. Giving people an extra day off five months out of the year to take trips — which are often financed by the $2,000 allowance — helps create a give-and-take mentality that SteelHouse respects employees, who in turn respect the company.
"It doesn't take a lot of science" to see that an extra day off each month makes people happier when they come in to work, Douglas said. "It's just a matter of having the courage to do something different and believing that there will be a net gain from it."