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To avoid COVID burnout, Nike grants office employees week off for mental health

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Nike logo   -   Copyright  Ng Han Guan/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press.
By Pascale Davies

As many employees prepare for the September return to the office, sportswear giant Nike has given staff in the United States the week off to recover their mental health and “destress” after the pressures of the coronavirus pandemic.

The time off will affect staff in its Oregon headquarters until Friday.

"It’s not just a 'week off' for the team... It’s an acknowledgement that we can prioritise mental health and still get work done," Matt Marrazzo, a senior manager at Nike, said in a message on his LinkedIn page.

"Take the time to unwind, destress and spend time with your loved ones. Do not work".

Marrazzo also said we should recognise that "we’re all human" and living through a traumatic event.

"In a year (or two) unlike any other, taking time for rest and recovery is key to performing well and staying sane," he added.

What is burnout?

The World Health Organization (WHO) found in a 2020 study that the COVID-19 pandemic had disrupted or halted critical mental health services in 93 per cent of countries worldwide while the demand for mental health is increasing.

For many working from home during the pandemic, the blurring of home and work life has also increased the risk of burnout, symptoms of which include exhaustion, lacking motivation, and anxiety among others.

An increasing number of businesses have granted extra time off to their staff to avoid burnout. In April, the professional networking site LinkedIn gave its workers worldwide an entire week off at the same time so they could recharge and avoid sending work emails to each other.

A small team was put in place to cover for the week, who in turn were then able to take another week off on another occasion.

Extra paid leave

Speaking at the time, Teuila Hanson, LinkedIn’s chief people officer, said: "We wanted to make sure we could give them something really valuable, and what we think is most valuable right now is time for all of us to collectively walk away".

Dating app Bumble also gave employees an extra week of paid leave to switch off in June.

Studies have shown the benefits of taking time off from work and that learning and development require rest to take hold.

According to research by Deloitte, burnout can "negatively impact worker health and the capacity for both work output and ability to learn and develop at the necessary pace".