“A Fortnight for Example” By Aidan O’Driscoll, Writer at Shinebox

By The Minneapolis Egotist / /

It’s a phrase Shineboxers know well and use often.

Partly because it’s punchy and memorable. Sprinkled with logos, pathos, and ethos. (The Greeks would’ve loved it.) Mostly, however, because it’s one of our core values.

And it’s taken seriously.

FBNA is more than rotating beer taps and zero tolerance for micro aggression. “It’s literal, but also figurative,” Shinebox Founder & Visionary Randy Larson explains. “It’s about hiring the kind of people who don’t really need rules.” Trust. Accountability. Understanding. This is what we ask of Shineboxers when they come aboard.

And it’s something our leadership team demands of itself, too. It makes sure FBNA (and our other core values) act as cultural drivers, spurring progressive change at all levels of our work. And it started with not working.

At the beginning of the year, Shinebox assembled a new leadership team to take the business in bold new directions. One of the first changes the team made was to implement an unlimited PTO policy, feeling it aligned closely with FBNA.

“There’s your work life, personal life, and sleep life,” Randy said. “You have to get enough of those three things. Not only to sustain yourself, but to feel fulfilled, to feel loved and to recharge your brain. Unlimited PTO gives our team the tools to help balance those three equal parts.”

Shinebox is certainly not the first to implement unlimited PTO. Job postings advertising unlimited vacation policies rose 178% between 2015 and 2019 with adoptees citing flexibility, retention, and reduced administrative work as major benefits. Even still, there were concerns about potential downsides for Shinebox. Though the downsides are slightly counterintuitive.

“Studies show that employees by and large do not abuse unlimited PTO policies,” CEO Jason Cook said. “In fact, quite the opposite is found; employees don’t take as much PTO as they should. And that’s a problem.”THE FORTNIGHT, UNLIMITED PTO’s CHILL COUSIN
We’ve defined FBNA, an essential Shineboxism. Let’s crack open the dictionary once more. The Fortnight, noun, is a yearly two-week vacation Shineboxers are strongly encouraged to take.

E.g., “Bobby used his Fortnight to go camping in Banff with his two little kids Sally and Bob, Jr.” Now we’ve established what The Fortnight is, let’s dive in. Why two weeks?

The thinking goes: two weeks allows enough time to step away from work, enjoy your time off, and get back into the swing of things. It’s not too short. Not too long. It’s just the right amount of time to recharge.

“The Fortnight gives people permission,” according to Tiffany Hahnfeldt, our Director of Operations. “Two weeks gives you an opportunity to get away from work long enough to rest and reset.”

And what if the thought of two whole weeks away from work is too much to bear? Don’t take it. Remember the thing about rules? The Fortnight is a tool in your PTO toolbox. If taking a few days every month is best, that’s just fine.

Our ECD Ross Phernetton puts it another way. ”No one should be so important that they can’t be gone for two weeks. That’s the hidden benefit; it fosters trust and shared accountability.” Shineboxers know that co-workers have their back while they’re gone. The no-vacation martyr who needs to feel like the linchpin—need not apply.

You’ve probably heard about, or worked for, companies whose core values are meaningless, empty statements. Written on a wall, or in a handbook, or alluded to in an all-hands meeting.

It’s refreshing to have joined a company where core values are continually applied to policies, and where leadership looks to employees for input on work preferences. The Fortnight is proof of that.

So while it’s clear where the agency is headed, I just need to figure out where I’m going for fourteen days straight. :0


  1. Zzzzzzzz October 7, 2022

    Is this a paid ad or what?

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