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Akili Core Values Series: Balance

By Christina Neubauer | Manager, Business Development

80% of employees feel they are stressed while on the job, but only 43% of them take their allotted vacation days. So why the disconnect? Turns out, nearly 40% of workers says they feel buried by the workload and can’t justify taking time away. And 13% of workers are worried about the work they’ll miss while gone.

In a society that glorifies and expects 40+ hours a week from employees, what push do employees have to take time off, and what would drive employers to encourage it? These are questions that flutter my mind when considering a new career path, and Akili wasn’t immune to them. After all, the US is one of few developed countries that doesn’t make employers provide paid time off.

The PTO question came up during my first week with Akili, aptly titled the “Holy Cow This Is A Lot of Information Week” by me. My answer was pretty straight-forward, “Whatever you need, as long as your work doesn’t suffer.” Wait. What?

I had heard right; I get unlimited time off as long as I a) don’t go nuts with it, and b) don’t let it negatively affect my work. This was certainly a first! I once spent a year working for a Chicago live events start up that would tell us not to come into the office if sick, but to find coverage from someone who wouldn’t dip into overtime (there were no part time employees), essentially forcing you to come to work sick (and hide it), or face the penalty of being written up, which excluded you from monthly bonuses. Add in the fact that it was a call center position and I’m shocked I stayed a year. So why does Akili encourage time away from the constant buzz?

According to an Oxford Economics study, “Paid time off leads to productivity gains as workers report returning to work refreshed and with a better attitude.” Awesome! I can’t argue that. But what about those folks who just can’t make themselves take a day or two off?

Concerned about the potentially impending workload, I had begun to gauge just how many people took days off when I was hit with the Akili Core Values. There are 12 all together and, of the many that stood out to me, Balance was the shiniest. According to the Akili Core Values, “Life is a marathon, not a sprint.” So Akili encourages and expects team members to strike a balance between their business and their private lives.

Okay. Great. But let’s say I seriously can’t take any time off for the next few months, how am I supposed to strike that balance? There’s not a single person on our team that would want to vacay while the fire is hot, and Akili knows that. Hence why there are internal events like the Employee Paintball War, Mini Golf Course Challenge, Ping Pong Tournaments, and Happy Hours. Add in the Annual Lake and Holiday parties and its clear Akili makes a great effort to keep their team happy and in good spirits. And, for the first time in a long time, it’s made me feel like the company I work for has a vested interest in me, not just the profits I can bring.

“Akili’s Company Culture is the collective expression of our people’s personalities and interests.  We hope to give you a glimpse into who we are, the attitude, the perks, the magic; The Akili Difference.”

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