Leah is a friend, colleague, advisor and my partner at Fishhook. She sits on our leadership team and leads all our Communications Strategists. She's been with Fishhook for 11 years and has helped shape nearly every internal process, client strategy and team expansion. Dozens of churches have experienced growth and/or navigated change under Leah's counsel, and Fishhook would not be what we are without her influence and leadership.
In honor of Leah's Fishhook anniversary, I'm excited to announce that
she will be taking off the entire month of July! This break will be something between a mega-vacation and mini-sabbatical, and she'll be back with the team on August 1.
Last year, Fishhook leaders put together an employee service recognition plan as a way to say "thank you" to Fishhookers who reach key milestones - including 10 years of service. Leah was already in her 10th year, so here at year 11, she's getting a much deserved thanks. The official plan called for a week of paid vacation time, plus funds to pay for a family vacation, romantic getaway, a solo adventure...whatever would provide rest and refreshment during that week off. The employee is asked to submit a short essay outlining their plan, so we can support their dreams well.
As Leah has shared with the team, she prayed and pondered what she might do with her week off. She talked with her husband, and what kept coming to mind was taking an entire month off - to just be with her family. We modified the plan, allowing her to use the recognition plan's one week of paid vacation time, her accrued paid time off and some unpaid time off. And we're simply giving her the funds that would pay for a trip to use as she wishes.
When Leah joined Fishhook 11 years ago, we didn't have an employee benefit strategy. Over time, we've carefully added a few of the standard benefits afforded by small businesses. And while a Simple IRA, paid time off, disability insurance and other benefits round out our offerings, our number one benefit, far and away, is a super flexible work environment and schedule. Within a few parameters, each team member can set their own schedule - choosing when and where to work many of their hours. Flexibility is number one!
Our people are awesome, and we want to say thanks in a way that is significant. From a business standpoint, our turnover is crazy low. We're grateful that Fishhookers choose to focus their lives, in part, on our mission, so we want our efforts to also focus on their lives. From a stewardship standpoint, we feel a great responsibility to care for our team. This is one way to do that.
Here are three lessons I've learned that I believe can benefit church leaders:
- The concept of "work/life balance" comes up short
It positions "work" somehow opposite of the employee's "life." I prefer "work/home balance" because our work is a big chunk of our life, so the better balance is how does my work balance with all that I want to be at home? It may seem like a small detail, but it matters to me.
- Everyone needs a break
My heart is sad when I hear of church leadership boards that don't say "yes" to a pastor's sabbatical request. A leader who is asking for a break needs it.
- The best recognition is the one that matters to the employee
I'm grateful that Leah listened to the rumbling in her heart and asked for what her soul really needs - time away from daily work responsibilities to have time with her incredible family.
In the coming years, I hope I get to experience the joy of one Fishhooker after another reaching their 10 year mark and see how they will customize our plan to meet the desires of their hearts. Leah, enjoy July!