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Nike gives employees a week off to ‘destress’ and focus on their mental health

By PINKY S. ICAMEN Published Sep 01, 2021 4:21 pm

The global shoe and apparel giant recently closed its corporate offices for a week, from Aug. 25 to 30, to give its employees time to focus on mental health, and additional time to rest and recover in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It has been over a year since the pandemic forever changed how people live. While the pandemic is mostly focused on physical health, it has also taught us that it is equally important to take care of our mental health. 

In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified workplace burnout as an occupational phenomenon.

According to WHO, burn-out, a workplace stress that has not been successfully managed, is characterized by three dimensions:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feeling of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
  • Reduced professional efficacy

In these times of uncertainty, constant anxiety, isolation and stress, some companies have taken into consideration their employees’ emotional health and well-being by crafting ways to ensure their workers don’t get burned out.

In a LinkedIn post, Matt Marrazzo, a senior manager in the company, announced that Nike’s Beaverton, Orgeon headquarters is “powering down” for a full week.

“Our senior leaders are all sending a clear message: Take the time to unwind, destress and spend time with your loved ones. Do not work,” Marrazzo wrote.

He added, “It’s times like this that I’m so grateful to be a part of this team. In a year (or two) unlike any other, taking time for rest and recovery is key to performing well and staying sane.”

With the pandemic still wreaking havoc in many aspects of society, it is definitely a traumatic experience for many. But Marrazzo said, “the empathy and grace we continue to show our teammates will have a positive impact on the culture of work moving forward.”

It is not just a “week off” for the team, Marrazzo said, but it is also “an acknowledgement that we can prioritize mental health and still get work done.”

(Those who are working in the headquarters may be getting their paid time off, but its retail store employees are not, according to a report by Oregon Live.)

In May, as vaccinations in the US were ramping up, the company started to look into going back to physical offices after more than a year of being away, With this, Nike introduced its flexible work model where employees are allowed to go to the office only three times a week. The remaining two days are for working remotely, which will provide them a flexible routine.

With this move, Nike joins other companies who have pushed to advance to take care of its employees’ mental health by giving them some time off during the pandemic.

In February 2021, Microsoft gave its employees five extra paid vacation days to ease their stress and anxiety during the pandemic, plus a $1,500 (P75,000) bonus to show appreciation for their efforts in the past year.

LinkedIn’s almost 16,000 employees worldwide were given a week off in April for them to recharge and avoid burnout.

Meanwhile, a company-wide paid week off was also implemented by dating app Bumble for its 700 employees in June, in addition to their normal vacation allowance. The company made the move to give its global teams “the opportunity to shut off and focus on themselves for a week.”