How to Manage Parental Leave OOO Email Overload

Aaron Leeder
January 7, 2023

“We will be offering 13 weeks of parental leave for all employees regardless of gender”.  

Upon hearing the words from my CEO’s mouth, there was a mixture of shock, excitement, and an anxious curiosity. 

The shock came because we were still bootstrapped when this decision was made. We had organically grown north of $6M ARR and I was the only person on the team who “sells” our Partnership opportunities.

The excitement lay in the anticipation of essentially having the summer “off.” I was ecstatic to have more time to welcome our new baby boy and enjoy time with my wife and our 4-year-old daughter.

Happy new dad Aaron Leeder, VP of Partnerships and Alliances at Pavillion with his baby son.
A happy new papa, finding balance in life (source: Aaron Leeder).

The aforementioned anxious curiosity was tied to confusion about the policy change itself. If I’m the only person selling a particular product and I disconnect fully for 13 weeks, what happens to that quarter? What happens to the rest of the year? Am I really going to be able to disengage from work?

It’s worth noting that, as our company matures and as we hire more employees who would have growing families, we’ll find out more about what we don’t know regarding parental leave. 

How would the company deal with parents being OOO for 13 weeks?

To put things in context, Pavilion has been on fire.  The amount of daily inbounds had been increasing over Q2 and interest in our community has been growing rapidly.

To add coal to the fire, we announced a growth round of funding in conjunction with acquisitions of two communities and our rebrand from Revenue Collective. My inbox was likely going to explode with >80% irrelevant “congrats on the raise” emails.  (If this sounds like a problem you have, you should check out this article from Tanner Lacey, Cofounder at Spiff.)

From the company’s perspective, a slowdown in Partnership revenue seemed to be okay. We were having a great year, I was already pacing to exceed my target, so hitting pause on this part of our business’ growth felt tenable. Our founder is hyper-focused on long-term relationships. 

Offering me and future parents the ability to put our focus on our families at a critical time is part of building that long-term relationship with employees. One that is worth any potential risk to momentum.

How would I balance my inbox and family time effectively? 

As I prepared to head out on paternity leave, I thought more and more about how to avoid some serious overwhelm in my own inbox during my OOO time. 

Aside from the obvious fault of disconnecting from nurturing my prospects, there was the danger of ignoring my email. Looking away from email for a quarter of the year would jeopardize the sanctity of the halls of my inbox.

I didn’t want to stumble through Q3 or Q4, but I also wanted to enjoy parental leave and this precious time in my family.

Here’s are a few tricks I used to both keep my email manageable and enjoy the moments that needed to be enjoyed.

  • I spent 20 minutes (one time) combing through key account domains with Gated.  This ensures that any domains I want to hear from can reach my inbox easily, but the rest of the noise is kept out. 
  • I limited my email time during leave to moments when no one else in my home was awake. I’d choose when to dive in, and when I did, my email was nearly entirely messages that I wanted to read and receive, thanks to Gated.
  • I set clear expectations with the people who needed to be in touch with me. They know who they are, they respect my wishes, and those internal and external relationships are all stronger after a few months with some increased distance.

Aaron Leeder is an early user and Advisor at Gated.  He has his hands full with two beautiful children and serving as VP of Partnerships and Alliances at Pavilion.

Intro photo by Steven van Loy via Unsplash.