Turbyville, who works for a medical-information company in Georgia, US, says management at his job often sends out surveys to track worker wellbeing. After evaluating the responses, says Turbyville, “they said, you know what, this has been a big, hard year. We want to make sure we’re not putting too much stress and pressure on our teams. Let’s give them a couple of extra ‘wellness days’”. The company chose two Fridays – one in April and one in July – as extra days off for the whole staff.
In recent months, a swath of businesses, both large and small, have taken similar actions, offering employees ‘self-care’ days on top of regular paid time off. In April, LinkedIn shut down for a week, giving nearly all 16,000 of their global employees five days off. Since last summer, Google has given workers two impromptu paid holidays. And back in November 2020, Ryan Wuerch, CEO of cash-back app Dosh, started granting employees impromptu long weekends. The Wall Street Journal reported, “On some Thursdays, during all-staff meetings, Mr. Wuerch now surprises the company with the news that the following day is a ‘Dosh Day,’ when no work is allowed.
It’s a novel approach to tackling more than a year of taxing, remote work amid the pandemic, especially as employees are in need of policies that support mental and emotional health, perhaps more than ever. And many employees, like Turbyville, welcome the time off with open arms. But, however well intentioned, these approaches may not go quite far enough; a day – or even a week – away from work is probably not consequential enough on its own to curb burnout and solve issues of overworking. And these days don’t necessarily help employees equally.