This CEO's Secret to Growing Her Company By 300%? Giving Employees Recess

Shani Godwin

Shani Godwin, CEO of Communiqué USA

Shani Godwin

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Leah Thomas866
July 22, 2024 at 7:32PM UTC
Shani Godwin has grown her company, Communiqué USA, by 300 percent. How? By under-working her employees.
As CEO of Communiqué, the marketing communications firm based in Atlanta, Godwin emphasizes the importance of work-life balance -- giving her employees flexible schedules, necessary breaks throughout the day, recess time, and 35-hour work weeks.
"We created a platform called Joy Economics. It embodies and characterizes our company’s 'live, work, play' philosophy," Godwin told Fairygodboss.
"We believe that an employee is only as good and their work is only as good as their whole ability to balance life priorities and work priorities."
In order to de-stress employees and keep them happy in the workplace, Godwin does an annual "Play Day," where she takes her 19 employees out for a day of fun, like to an Atlanta Braves game in the middle of the workday. Godwin also does an annual company retreat each fall, where Communiqué employees are taken off-site and away from clients to celebrate their accomplishments at the company.
The 16-year-old marketing communications firm specializes in providing marketing staffing support to major companies. They place contractor talent, such as project managers, graphic designers, and writers, on-site in under-staffed marketing departments to take the stress load off of the marketing team.
Godwin started the company when she was 27-years-old, working in corporate America, wanting to start a family with her then-husband but unsure how to raise children the way she wanted to while only being offered two-weeks vacation at her job.
Her "live, work, play" philosophy initially came out of her own personal lifestyle preferences.
"And then, as I got really into it and started doing a lot of research, I was running across statistics that showed the loss that companies were leaving on the table," she said. "In 2016, American companies lost $300 billion in productivity because of overstressed, overworked employees. When people are worked and constantly stressed all the time, that creates illness, it breaks down families and marriages. I saw this fundamental issue with not letting people have space in their lives to rest."
Upon creating the company, Godwin realized she had to de-tox her new employees from their previous work environments.
"We spend probably a good 90+ days with all new employees de-toxing the very people who come to work for us because they want work-life balance," Godwin said. "Corporate environments have become so toxic people don’t even realize the bad habits they have."
To ensure employees are actually taking their mind off of work at the end of the day, Godwin has implemented a policy that has since been dubbed "The Infamous Email Ban." 
"Our employees are not allowed to engage in email with each other or with clients after 7 PM and on weekends," Godwin explained. 
"People are so connected and so on-for-the-job 24/7 that they’re not able to disconnect. So we have this email policy that employees have to sign and our clients know about. It gives people a minute to disconnect from work, take a break, and come out the other side happier, healthier."
Godwin's emphasis on taking breaks has proven to be successful, as she not only grew her company tremendously but has also increased payroll expenses by 500 percent since implementing her Joy Economics policies.
"I’ve always been very passionate in the belief that we have the ability to set our lives up in the way that we want them to look for us," Godwin explained.
"Some people bring their whole selves to work and return half-bodied and half-available to their families. And it’s really important to me that our employees are able to give the best of themselves to their families as well as the company."

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