Top companies like Nike, LinkedIn, Bumble and HootSuite gave workers a fully paid week off to disconnect and destress together.
Remote work offers flexibility, freedom and time to do new things. However, it also leads to stress and anxiety as the line between work and life becomes blurry and, sometimes, even non-existent. According to a Bloomberg report, people have been working a minimum of two extra hours every day since Covid. As a result, they are experiencing burnout.
The World Health Organization recognized burnout as a medical condition in 2019, with its cause being chronic workplace stress. As of 2021, three out of five workers globally are burned out. In light of this, top companies introduced schemes—from “Zoom-free Fridays” to “Global Week of Rest”—to encourage employees to take care of their mental health. Here’s a look at some of the initiatives:
Nike: “Do not work”
Three weeks back, footwear giant Nike announced that it was giving its head office employees in Oregon a week off to de-stress. The Head of Insights Matt Marazzo wrote a message to his staff on LinkedIn saying, “Do not work.” He acknowledged how the past year had been rough and traumatic, adding that it has been a year like no other. He said, “Take the time to unwind, de-stress and spend time with your loved ones.”
For him, this move is not just a response to our current situation but also a reflection of the company’s culture. “We’re all human!” he exclaimed, hoping that Nike’s empathy and grace will have a positive impact on its community. “It’s not just a ‘week off’ for the team… it’s an acknowledgment that we can prioritize mental health and still get work done,” he concluded, urging other companies to support their employees too.
In June 2021, online dating app Bumble declared that it was giving its global staff of 700 a week off to combat stress. It announced, “All Bumble employees will have a paid, fully offline one-week vacation in June.” The company released a statement explaining, “As vaccination rates have increased and restrictions have begun to ease, we wanted to give our teams around the world an opportunity to shut off and focus on themselves for a week.”
Bumble President Tariq Shaukat, in an interview, noted that the employees were experiencing Zoom fatigue and burnout. He realized that employees were not fully disconnecting even on their off days. He said, “The stress comes from always being connected — but when working from home or vacationing, there’s always a feeling of ‘What am I missing?’” That brought about the idea of giving all the employees a week off.
Given the success of this initiative, Bumble plans on giving their employees two weeks of company-wide “reset time” next year.
The business and employment-oriented online service LinkedIn gave its employees a paid week off in April, dubbing it “RestUp”. The company’s Chief People Officer Teuila Hanson said they wanted to give their workers something “really valuable”. She shared, “What we think is most valuable right now is time for all of us to collectively walk away.” She acknowledged the toll that the pandemic took on the employees. According to Hanson, there was no doubt that the employees were experiencing burnout.
Addressing the importance of employees’ mental well-being, they gave their 16,000 employees a week off. In addition to that, they also created an initiative titled “LiftUp!” to equip the employees with burnout training and other resources for their mental health.
Hanson feels that this is a necessary move. “A supportive company culture not only attracts and retains the kind of talent needed to build the business,” she asserts.
HootSuite: Wellness Week
“Our collective mental health is suffering,” social media management platform HootSuite declared in a blog post in May 2021. In light of that, the platform gave its employees a week off from July 5 to July 12, 2021 to unplug together. Taking an off day collectively ensured that none of the employees felt the need to check their notifications or catch up on work later.
The move aligns with the values of the company’s founder Ryan Holmes. For him, work-life is like “interval training” where people give equal attention to hard work and rest. According to him, “Sometimes what we really need is an extended period away from the job.”
The company mentioned that the psychological safety of their people is essential to their organization. Their Chief People and Diversity Officer Tara Ataya noted, “When employees are given the tools, resources, and time to look after their mental health and wellness, organizations are more agile, resilient, and successful.”
Burnout, stress and exhaustion have become a part of our everyday workplace vocabulary. That’s why, to boost employee morale, productivity and performance, managers must give due attention to their employees’ mental well-being.
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