As the summer wraps up and pumpkin spice season peeks around the corner, Samsonite teamed up with Minaa B., Senior Consultant, LMSW, and created the Road to PTO Quiz
recognizing the urgency around taking paid time off. The initiative coincides with Samsonite’s recently launched “Take What’s Yours” campaign which encourages employees to maximize the long-awaited summer season by taking advantage of PTO, long weekends and everything in between. CASSIUSLife had the unique opportunity to discuss the new campaign as well as the important of bringing PTO and mental health to the forefront of company culture. Below is the exchange shared between CASSIUSLife, Nicole Adriance, Senior Director of Brand Marketing at Samsonite and Minaa B.
CASSIUSLife: How did the partnership come about between Minaa B. and Samsonite?
Nicole Adriance: So the partnership really started because of the shared interest [between Samsonite and Minaa B.] in the importance of PTO, the role that PTO has in allowing one to reset, recharge, and learn, and ultimately, to travel.
When we set out to create the campaign, we came across this stat that every year, millions of Americans don’t take their PTO — and that is just so unacceptable. So coming out of that insight, we created this campaign called “Take What’s Yours.” As one of the world’s most trusted travel brands. We really wanted to inspire our audiences and also our internal employees, for that matter, but certainly, our consumers, to take PTO because, ultimately, it’s owed to all of us. It’s owed to me. It’s owed to you, Alex. It’s owed to Minaa. So we deserve that time. So we should be taking it. And ultimately, as a travel brand, we think in “travel” and travel can come in so many different forms.
We are so happy to be partnering with Minaa B. on this. We wanted to bring in an expert and when we came across Minaa, we were like, yes, she is such an expert in this space, because we can all learn so much in finding the tools on how to think about mental health within the workplace.
Minaa B.: When Samsonite reached out to me, I was really excited to partner with them because of my own background as a licensed mental health professional and running a consulting company where I do work with organizations to help them build psychological safety and become mental health inclusive. And to me, mental health inclusivity, is also talking about the importance of PTO and taking time off.
I spend a lot of time doing trainings and workshops, helping people understand the importance of work-life harmony as well as the importance of taking care of their well-being in the workplace, and utilizing PTO as a self care strategy. I think that there are a lot of complex reasons behind why many people don’t take time off. But I do think the biggest reason can be attributed to burnout culture, grind culture, hustle culture, and this idea of we have to be on, we always have to be busy.
Being productive, in some ways, makes us feel good about ourselves. It makes us feel confident. And we think productivity is aligned with being busy, with doing, with overexerting ourselves.
And I think when we start having conversations about PTO, it also opens up a doorway into what does it mean to rest, what does it mean to have boundaries, what does it mean to prioritize yourself, and what does it mean to disconnect?
It also encourages people to dig deep and ask themselves, “What am I running away from that I don’t utilize my PTO? Like why am I afraid of sitting in the house all day [and] doing nothing? What if I said, you know what, I need a mental health day just to sit at home? Maybe I need extra hours of sleep. Why is that a bad thing? What stops me from literally caring for myself?”
So starting off with a quiz to make people think gives them the leverage to really be introspective and tap into self awareness and say, “You know what? When was the last time I took some time off?” Or questions around, what do I think about travel? Do I feel like PTO is synonymous with travel and that’s why I don’t take PTO? What is the reason behind my ambivalence or my fear or whatever it is that stops me from utilizing something I have a right to?
But I think that this quiz and just sparking this conversation is the beginning to opening up a bigger conversation that can help tackle issues like stress and burnout in the workplace.
CASSIUSLife: We’re still in a pandemic, and one of the things that became more prevalent is the rise of working from home and hybrid arrangements. But for a lot of people, PTO and vacation time is about getting away. Yet work now lives with us much more than it did before.
How do we bring awareness about PTO and mental health to the forefront for employers and employees who might be struggling with guilt or those who just don’t have the necessary information?
Nicole Adriance: One thing that we started thinking about coming out of the pandemic was that there has been this great reset. And there is certainly more of a conversation on mental health than there was, I would say, three years ago.
So we actually conducted a proprietary survey ourselves with Harris poll with Minaa’s help. And through that we learned some stats that just kind of confirmed that things haven’t really changed. Some of those stats are: 65% of full-time employees agree that they urgently need a vacation, 56% of people are saying that they’re burnt out at work, and nearly 75% of people have used less than 50% of their PTO to date, with 20% of full-time employees saying that they don’t have any paid vacation days scheduled for the next three months.
This shows that we’re on a trajectory for people to not use all of their PTO time, even in a time where I think we’ve been talking about resetting. You asked about hybrid work and how that has changed things, and I think it comes down to normalizing [that] as a leader.
Nicole Adriance: But just in my experience, it’s normalizing the act of taking the time. And it doesn’t need to be a big international trip. It could be a day at home to “Netflix and chill.”
Even within hybrid culture, I think this goes beyond PTO in some ways of saying, “go take a run.” As a leader, I’ll say I’m going to go work out in the middle of the day, which I know is sort of beyond PTO, but I think it’s part of this mental health conversation. So just normalizing the act of taking your time in whatever format that may be. With the “Take What’s Yours” campaign at Samsonite, we wanted to inspire our consumers. We wanted them to take the quiz to see sort of how badly they need to take their PTO.
But one thing that I’m really proud of is that we were able to impact the internal culture at Samsonite. So [one] of the small things we did was we started a contest internally. We want people to take their paid time off and share pictures of what they’re doing on our internal SharePoint site.
And hybrid work can come in different formats. It could just be time off during the day. I think as leaders, as organizations, I also want to encourage other corporations to encourage people to take the time because like you said, I certainly grew up in a time when sort of that burnout, grind, hustle culture was sort of the norm. And I’m happy to see that we’re changing the conversation.
Minaa B.: On my end, when I’m working with companies on a C-suite level, one of the things I do is ask companies, “When was the last time you sent out personal well-being surveys for employees?” So I can know what are some things that I should be paying attention to when it comes to [our] mental health.
So I think that this quiz that Samsonite put together is a great start to get people to reflect. Because often we’re just going through our days, and sometimes we need someone to tap us on the shoulder and say, “Hey, when was the last time you took a break? When was the last time you disengaged? “
One of the things I try to teach organizations is to send out quarterly surveys to their staff so that those surveys and those quizzes can get their staff to start thinking about all of the different things that they need to help maintain their well-being.
I also think on a C-suite level, as Nicole said, they’re bringing me in to do a workshop. And I do think workshops and trainings, making [them] quarterly as well, not just emphasis on, ‘well, it’s mental health month, let’s talk about this now.’ Let’s make it a part of our curriculum and a part of our professional development.
Hire consultants to really teach and educate their staff on the importance of maintaining their mental health and what it looks like to really engage in work-life harmony. And how taking time off and learning to rest is vital and important to that. I also think that for companies where you are still having supervision, for example, with your direct reports, it’s okay to bring up, “I noticed you haven’t taken PTO in a really long time. Is there a reason behind why you haven’t taken some time off?”
Because I think it’s also important to let people know through modeling and through leadership that this is a safe space for you to do that. So I’m okay with having that conversation. I also think about company culture. A common thing I’m hearing a lot lately is a lot of people who are being granted unlimited PTO actually feel fearful using it because they don’t want to be that person. “If I took more PTO than this person, am I going to be judged or scrutinized?” And I think that this is where the training and the workshops come in, working with C-suite level managers to help them assess, “how are we approaching this conversation?”
Minaa B.: Are we approaching this conversation around PTO through a lens of judgment? Or are we approaching this conversation through a lens of empathy and a lens of self-advocacy and community care within the workplace, where we really want our employees to know we honor work-life harmony and creating a culture where you can care for yourself?
Language is important, because if I speak to you and say, “You took a lot of PTO last month,” that type of language is going to make me feel a little fearful. [As opposed to], “I noticed you have been taking some time off. Is there any way that I can support you? It’s not an issue, but I just want to make sure as a manager, you feel supported.”
If you need extra time off or things like that, you need mental health days. So I think it’s really important to be mindful of the language that we use as well. Those are some insights that I teach when I am working with organizations on a managerial level. But when it comes to employees and direct reports and just everyone within the agency as well, another critical thing that I teach is personal responsibility and learning to tap into agency and autonomy over ourselves.
CASSIUSLife: Samsonite has been around for 110 years. How much has the nature of travel itself really changed? And is anything really that different when it comes to luggage technology?
Nicole Adriance: Durability and long lasting products are at the core of our product innovation. So going back, you know, 110 years ago, Samsonite was known as having the most durable product. There’s this great old ad with our founder Jesse Schwayder and his brothers standing on a board, just showing how durable the product is. And I think when it comes to luggage, we’ve been able to innovate on the durability and the long lasting components of the product.
The reason that’s so important is because if you know that your belongings are safe and secure, that allows you to ultimately [not worry] and to instead focus on your trip. And this has always been core to who we are as a brand going back 110 years ago.
There’s another old ad, I think it’s from the ’70s maybe, and it has this great tagline: “We worry about your belongings so you don’t have to.”
So again, I think that all kind of connects to this idea of “Take What’s Yours,” and the product innovation in building luggage that is durable, long lasting, and ultimately sustainable in many ways, so that you can focus on what really matters.
We have many different collections that we offer, [and] we had to narrow it down to just three for this particular campaign — and I would say to that, the details matter.
Nicole Adriance: The “Elevation” collection, one of our newest collections, is for the consumer that wants to have easy access to their products. So there’s what we call “the front door solution.” There’s a button to open it up, and this front door opens so that you can easily access [your stuff], whether it’s your laptop or raincoat or whatever it might be.
The collection also offers our “Glider,” and that’s a product that is proprietary to Samsonite because of the way that the wheels interlock. So [with] your traditional suitcase that you’re probably familiar with, the larger spinner that you’re used to stands up, right? This one’s flipped and it’s horizontal. And it’s amazing because it’s a lower center of gravity. You can pack a lot into it. You can put product on top of it. So if you’re traveling with a number of bags, with the family, or whatever it might be, it allows you to easily carry a lot of items within that glider silhouette. That’s another thing that we love. So, again, the details matter.
The “Glider” [is] another silhouette within the “Outline Pro,” another collection that’s within the campaign. It’s another really durable, long lasting product line that has a handle that’s actually antimicrobial. So that’s a really cool feature in that one.
And then lastly, the other collection within the campaign is “Detour.” So we talked a little bit about because of everything that’s happening with the airlines, people are traveling in different ways. So it’s really nice to have a duffel bag if you’re doing car travel — and some people just love a duffel.
You can open it up, you can see all of your products easily. I think it works well in a car environment. And then that product line actually has wheels, so it’s a wheeled duffel in the largest size.
And then all of those collections have so many different packable features, [like] our wet pack pockets–where you could put in a wet swimsuit or if your clothes get smoky for whatever reason–which protects them from the rest of the items. We have compression sleeves. We have extra pockets. There are so many different additional features within each of the lines. So, yeah, while it might seem like just a bag, [it’s not]. I think there’s sneaker heads. Well, there’s luggage heads, too! (laughs)
And as an expert traveler, we want to make sure that we we’re thinking about the different ways people are traveling: alone, with family, short trip, long trip, car trip, plane trip, etc. And at Samsonite, we have all of the solutions for those expert travelers and those who are new to travel.
CASSIUSLife: Minaa, are there any tips you can offer travelers to make sure they have a worthwhile getaway from work?
Minaa B: Most Americans who take PTO don’t unplug–and will still work on vacation. My recommendation would be to take the time to disconnect from work and recharge yourself. It may seem challenging to tear yourself away from your email, but everyone deserves a break, and the benefits of work-life balance on physical and emotional health are tremendous.
CASSIUSLife: Nicole, what can consumers look forward to with this partnership between you and Minaa B. and how can people participate in the “Take What’s Yours campaign?”
Nicole Adriance: They can take the quiz that we developed with Minaa B., which can be found on our website, Samsonite.com/takewhatsyours, and you can learn more about the campaign via the hashtag #TAKEWHATSYOURS.
They can take the quiz to see how urgently they need a vacation. We hope [the quiz] inspires them, if they end up really anywhere through the one to three different solutions, to take their PTO. And also, when you take the quiz, you get a discount code to our products. So that’s definitely another benefit!
And of course, follow us on Instagram and TikTok. We’ve got influencers sharing tips and tricks, other quizzes that we have on our Instagram, and a whole lot more [information] to round out the campaign.