Employee Burnout 2021: Improving Employee Morale With a Free Week Off

Subscribe on iTunes  |   Google Podcasts  |   Spotify

Over the last six months or so, several companies have given their employees additional time off in an effort to curb employee burnout and boost morale.

The last week of August, Nike gave all the employees in their corporate office a free week off and told them to go home and “de-stress.”

Nike was not the first company to do this.

LinkedIn started the trend in April when it gave its employees a week off to “recharge.”

In June, Bumble, the dating app, gave its employees a free week off, explaining it was meant to curtail burnout. When employees returned to the office, Bumble said it was such a success that this would be a twice-yearly permanent perk.

In July, Hootsuite gave its employees a week off, referring to it as their inaugural “Wellness week.” Calling it an inaugural event implies this will continue annually.

Why is this new trend so important?

The Great Resignation

2021 is quickly becoming the year of the Great Resignation.

In short, an unusually high percentage of people are leaving their jobs this year.

Much of that is a result of companies issuing abrupt return to work orders, a move that left many employees and staff members displeased.

The swift transition from fully remote to fully in-office operations has led more employees than normal to look for greener pastures.

In an effort to demonstrate their commitment to employee satisfaction and acknowledge the challenges of the past 18 months, several organizations are rewarding staff for their loyalty in the form of an additional week of paid time off.

Corporate Culture & Employee Wellbeing

Corporate culture is critical to understand before taking a new job.

The way organizations treat mental health is a strong indicator of corporate culture.

The companies offering an additional paid week off to their employees is an indication that mental health and employee health and wellness is a priority.

Long-term Change? Or Short-term PR Move?

The gift of a week off is also a good PR move.

Bumble and Hootsuite promised they will continue doing this in the future.

But those commitments may be difficult to keep next year when business is booming and employees don’t have downtime for an extra week of vacation.

Are Company-Wide Shutdowns Realistic?

It will be interesting to see if in 2022, rather than doing a companywide shut down for a week, these organizations instead offer their employees vacation at their own convenience.

Many people would prefer this arrangement because they could take vacation on their terms instead of when the CEO dictates.

However, just because employees are given paid time off, they don’t always take it.

Global Differences in Paid Time Off

Paid time off and the percentage of PTO taken is dictated according to where you live in the world.

U.S. workers typically get two weeks’ vacation a year.

In Finland, they get six.

I live in Australia. Here we get 4 weeks.

Australians consistently take their paid time off each year.

To a large extent, Americans do not.

In fact, more than half of Americans do not use all their vacation time in a given year.

If companies elect to give employees an additional week rather than mandating a company-wide shutdown, it is likely most employees won’t take the time off anyway.

Job Applicants Are Paying Attention

Companies are forging a lot of goodwill by instituting week-long pauses in their operations.

Current employees are appreciative and more loyal than normal as a result of these benefits.

And job seekers looking for new positions are paying attention to which companies are offering these perks.

After all, this is a unique selling point that not every employer is offering, so it makes these organizations stand out from their competitors.

If more employers continue to jump on the bandwagon, the competition for the best job applicants could increase in the coming years.

Time will tell whether this is a turning point and a game-changer. Ultimately, it has the potential to be from a recruiting and hiring standpoint. And in terms of employee retention and morale.

After all, happier employees are more productive and loyal. This in turn leads to better returns for the organization.

In truth, there is very little downside to offering employees the time off to rest and destress.