- Gaming platform Roblox recently gave workers a “Spring Break“: mandated time off to avoid burnout.
- Employees loved it and said they felt “refreshed” and “cared for” afterwards.
- The holiday came shortly after the firm went public in March. Its stock price has risen 11%.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
For the last year, meetings have become
calls, coffee chats have become Zoom calls, and happy hours have become… Zoom calls. As a result of the non-stop screen time of pandemic life, companies are looking for new ways to mitigate burnout among their employees.
That’s why online gaming platform Roblox mandated that its 960 workers take four days off in early April to recharge, get some sun, and catch up on their hobbies, dubbing the holiday “Roblox Spring Break.”
“With the pandemic, it’s hard to take time off and actually get away from the office because your couch is your office these days, your bedroom is your conference room,” Roblox experience officer Barbara Messing told Insider. “So we realized that the best way for people to really take a break would be if we synchronized it.”
It worked: Employees conquered their personal to-do lists, disappeared into the woods for camping trips, shredded the slopes in Tahoe, or just allowed themselves to sink into video games for full six-day stretch.
For example, Messing spent her time with her husband in Big Sur, California hiking, eating great food, and enjoying the views.
Roblox employees felt reinvigorated post-rest and the first question everyone had when they returned to work — “When can we do this again?” — has inspired the company to make it a regular occurrence even as the pandemic draws to a close.
Prior to the pandemic, Roblox offered its employees unlimited paid time off, but found that it’s not always easy to convince employees to take their much-needed vacation time.
As the lockdown evolved from weeks to months to more than a year, Roblox decided to test out new ideas to try to alleviate burnout, which can cause depression, anxiety, and exhaustion. The company offered mental health days, multiple long weekends, and a two-week break in late 2020, giving workers the weeks of both Christmas and New Years off.
“We also do ‘No Meeting Wednesdays’ so that people can also have mental breaks and really do deep thinking,” Messing said. “We really try to make it so that people can have the space to be creative.”
Multiple Roblox employees asked Messing if there would be more rest opportunities in the future so the firm decided to make it happen.
“We were just brainstorming about it and we said, let’s do it around spring break because we know a lot of folks have kids,” Messing said. “And it was just an incredible success. Employees loved it.”
The timing also came shortly after a particularly frenzied period for the company: Roblox went public on March 10 (since its debut, the stock price has risen 11%).
In addition to the spring recharge program (April 1st to the 6th), Roblox announced a summer session as well, which will take place in July and also include several days of mandated vacation.
How Roblox employees spent their spring break
What would you do with a work-mandated spring break? Roblox employees’ ideas included wine-tasting, Disneyland, and camping with their families.
“I rented an RV and parked in a state recreation area where we hiked, played board and card games, made s’mores over a campfire, and generally hung out,” Eric Zarko, principal software engineer at Roblox told Insider. “I would definitely recommend this recharge to other companies.”
“To me, this recharge was a tremendous gesture of appreciation and care by the company: It demonstrated that Roblox takes the time to really understand the needs of its employees and drive meaningful, personal impact,” Richard Sim, a senior director at Roblox, told Insider. “In speaking with others on the team, I know they also feel refreshed and cared for.”
“It was a much needed opportunity to pause, take some deep breaths and reset,” Dana Hamm, a technical sourcer at Roblox, told Insider. Hamm was able to take her teenage daughter to Disneyland, and loved not having to split her time between family and work.
Lisa Oliver, director of people at Roblox, told Insider that the best part of these recharges compared to normal PTO is that some employees return to less-crammed email inboxes — because the rest of the company is away, too.
“It actually felt like you got to have a break,” Oliver said. “And for me, with little kids, it was nice to spend more time with them, as well as have one of the days for just myself (wine tasting with friends) while they were still in daycare as opposed to a typical weekend when I am with them the entire time.”