Wellness Week

I work for a great company, one that I feel cares about me as more than a “resource”, gives me opportunities (with responsibility and accountability, and has some nice benefits. I actually used one of those last week. I get a volunteer day every year, where I can spend time with a charity and get the day off. I used mine to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity in Denver.

During the last two years, Redgate has approached the pandemic and remote work with the idea that we need to be reasonable with each other. We need to understand that some employees might have more people in their homes during work hours and may need to provide care for others. They might have other challenges, or just be struggling to cope. We were asked to work with people, rather than against them, and try to support each other as best we could. I think it worked out well, and it showed us that company cares about us.

I know some other companies have done this, though not many. When a friend talks about how their employer supported them or others in difficult times, it’s always a surprise, and I am often impressed with how the organizations behave. I thought about that last month when I saw Spotify take a “wellness week” where they closed all their offices for a week. It won’t necessarily cure stress and overwork, but it is a bonus chance to let some people unwind.

A few organizations have closed between Christmas and New Year’s, or around the holidays, often when they don’t have much business taking place. Often this is a chance for them to avoid some costs, and a fair number of them have done this without paying people for that time. It doesn’t affect white-collar workers, but it does affect blue-collar ones, and I think that’s a very poor message to send to your staff. Giving people an option of more time off is nice, but don’t prevent them from working if they need the paycheck.

Lots of organizations slow down around this time of year, and they accept a lower amount of work getting done. I think that’s a better strategy, especially if you give people more flexibility to spend time with family or take care of business. Personally, I’d like to see more companies close down for the week and pay employees. If you’re not accomplishing much, maybe you should accept that and gain some goodwill by giving people a break.

I know there are lots of roles where this isn’t easy. Knowledge workers have it easy compared to those that need to interact with people or things in the real world. We do know, however, the engaged and happy workers will do a better job. They’ll get more done, and they’ll produce more quality work. I like the idea of “wellness time” where possible to give employees a break. Even if you had to split your employees into two groups and give each half a break during different days, it might be a good investment to make in your staff.

Steve Jones

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