Koya’s Unique Approach to Employee Wellness

Every year Koya Leadership Partners shuts down for a full week before Labor Day. This has been a tradition at Koya since I founded the company more than a dozen years ago, and it’s one that I value deeply.

I founded Koya because I strongly believe in our mission: The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World. Nonprofits demand the same level of talent and recruiting expertise that for-profits have benefitted from for decades because their work is so vital to the betterment of our world.

As Koya grew, I came to realize that we had an opportunity to do more than serve our clients and their missions. We could create a company in which talented professionals could give their best in a demanding career and still have something left over for their personal lives – A culture that promotes flexibility and allows people to come to work as their whole selves. A culture that recognizes that doctor’s appointments, school plays, or daily dog walks can be part of a productive work day. A culture in which people can work effectively and collaboratively from home or in an office anywhere in the country.

This can sometimes feel at odds with the realities of working at an executive recruiting firm. We take our responsibility to our clients and the candidates we work with very, very seriously. We are providing a critical service to nonprofits in an environment with extensive demands on time and resources. The life of an executive search professional is a full-tilt, high-pressure, sometimes around-the-clock proposition.

I know from both a personal and professional perspective that not taking time to recharge and rest is a sure recipe for burnout. But I also know that for many of the leaders who are so dedicated to making our world a better place, including those on our team here at Koya, it’s hard to turn work off, especially when it’s more than just a job.

Our end-of-summer shutdown is a cornerstone of the culture that we have built and continue to deepen at Koya. I instituted it because I want my team to enjoy the last days of summer and also have time for reflection and planning without the interruptions of daily work life. I personally have always viewed the beginning of fall as a time of renewal, and I wanted my staff to come back to work in September refreshed and focused.

Maintaining the practice of taking a week off isn’t always easy. Many of my colleagues in the search industry and even new Koya team members find it hard to believe that we simply shut down for an entire week each summer. We do so with extensive advance planning and communication so all of our clients and the candidates we work with know what to expect. We have contingency plans for our contingency plans.

I take comfort in knowing that there is at least one week a year when everyone who works for Koya has some literal and metaphorical space to pursue whatever it is that makes them happy. I know that it’s worth it when I see how engaged people are when they return to work, and when I review our sky-high client satisfaction results.

Katie Bouton
Founder and CEO
Koya Leadership Partners