How I Spent My Summer… on a Free International Vacation Paid for by my company, TaxSlayer
By Khemari Cook Director of Marketing
A lot of companies talk about treating their employees like family, but I work for a company that takes all their employees on a paid international vacation each year. When I tell friends about this trip, they are so surprised and say it is so rare for a company to do this today. So, I thought I would share more about it…
Just as families do during the summer, our company takes a much-needed break each year. But instead of heading our own ways after a busy tax season each Spring, our company takes all full-time employees on a company-paid trip to an exotic location and we can bring a significant other too.
This year, TaxSlayer broke a record by processing over 10 million state and federal efiles for all types of our customers and tax preparers across the U.S. This represents an increase of 200% over the past three years. And, this year marks the 19th year in a row that the company has paid for employees to take a trip each summer or spring to a unique and memorable destination. Sure, many companies offer sales trips or company meeting trips, but the annual TaxSlayer trip is a true vacation with all the fun, sun and luxuries you would look for if you planned it yourself. For many co-workers, this is their biggest trip of the year, and for others, it’s their first international vacation…. all paid for the company after completing a busy and successful season.
The unique nature of the tax business is that we are exceptionally busy serving our customers each January through April. There are few things in America that seem to get everyone as motivated (and busy) in such a short period of time. And to reward the employees of TaxSlayer, the company selects a unique destination and arranges a big trip. This year, over 200 people visited Secrets Maroma Beach Resort in Cancun, Mexico. The company fun-in-the-sun time includes one group dinner event where employees can choose to enter a “lip sync contest” with costumes and everything else zany–short of Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake to cheer you on.
In past years, TaxSlayer has sent employees to Aruba, St. Kitts, St. Thomas and other exotic locales. The company usually goes to a place that is warm, with a beautiful beach, and plenty of sunshine. These trips have created great memories for our employees and their loved ones (for whom we compensate half of their travel and stay — not bad when you think of it as a 75% discount on a vacation for two).
But as they say, the journey isn’t just about the destination: the benefits of maintaining the commitment to giving back to our employees is just as important as the fun trip we have each year. It’s part of the reason our employee turnover is so low, our job application volume is so high, and our company camaraderie is hard to beat. With our recently announced new building and expansion in downtown Augusta, TaxSlayer will be able to accommodate as many as 500 employees to be ready for our continued growth. I guess we’ll have to find a bigger resort!
Company participation in these events has been (unsurprisingly) very high, with some of our most senior executives making every trip across nearly two decades. We view the yearly vacation as a centerpiece of our culture and big bright motivator to help more American’s get through their tax season with a little help from their friends at TaxSlayer.
The trips have been an amazing way for all of us to unwind. And after working so hard to make sure that all our customers enjoy a low-stress tax season, we think our employees deserve some stress-free time as well. Additionally, it allows our employees to share a space together without any meetings, emails, PowerPoints or paperwork. All of this helps create close work connections and friendships that may last a lifetime. There’s a lot to be gained from a culture such as this: maybe a customer service rep and a lead programmer will come up with the next great product feature while sharing stories over a cocktail.
Investments like this to employee morale are undervalued by many employers today. Let’s face it, it’s easy to talk a big game about caring for the morale and well-being of employees. A yearly commitment, like our company vacation, turns these sentiments about keeping our “work family” happy into actions. Employees at every level work their hardest when a company’s interest in them goes beyond words and into deeds. It’s not cheap. But it’s a lot less expensive than having high turnover and the annual trip is something that truly unifies our company.
I hope a few companies read this story and consider the benefits of the company trip. It can be a real game-changer and drive an incredible culture that puts customers first AND rewards employees for doing so each year. But I hope not too many companies do it, because we kind of like how special it is to be at TaxSlayer.